Connecting the Generations: Teens and Alzheimer’s Disease

This month, the Salt Lake County Mayor’s appointed Youth EmployAbility Services Youth Council supported the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter (AAUC) in educating the public regarding the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease.

But what does Alzheimer’s have to do with youth and families? As we learned this month, the disease affects not only those who have the disease but also their family and the community.

 Facts about Alzheimer’s disease:

  • 5 million people have Alzheimer’s in the US and that number will soar as baby boomers enter their 60’s. 
  • Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in women, Hispanics and African Americans
  • Every 69 seconds a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • 1 out of 8 persons 65 years old has Alzheimer’s.
  • 1 out of 2 persons 85 yrs old has Alzheimer’s.
  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
  • It will bankrupt the US Gov. health resources if a cure is not found.
  • Utah is #2 in the US for Alzheimer’s (due to citizen’s longevity) and if the trend continues it will be #1

How has Alzheimer’s affected my life and my family? 

When I asked myself that question I thought that no one in my family has had Alzheimer’s.  When looking further and seeing it as a generational issue for children I realized that my paternal great grandfather died from Alzheimer’s, my maternal great uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my paternal great grandmother and siblings had memory problems. My parents, sisters, nieces and I are all at risk for Alzheimer’s!  I brought these subject to the attention of the Youth council; many of them have had Alzheimer’s effect their lives and they wanted to support the AAUC mission to “Connect the Generations.”

YES Youth Council members visit the Opera as part of "Making Sense of Alzheimer's" month

Youth Council member Audrienana Bennett brought members of her family to the May 6th “Organ Symphony” and she said she was uplifted by the music and wants to educate the teen population regarding Alzheimer’s.  Her grandparent died of Alzheimer’s disease and she worries that she may get the disease. 

Kristin Peterson attended the May 16th Opera performance of Falstaff. She is also worried about Alzheimer’s because her grandfather has it.

Sophia Koplin, 11, AAUC’s adolescent education specialist, made a presentation to her ALPS classmates of 22 children and 3 of them have grandparents with Alzheimer’s.  She and her sister, Olivia, 7, passed out the “Making Sense of Alzheimer’s” chocolates this year to let the attendees know that Alzheimer’s affects the whole family. There has been a history of Alzheimer’s in her family and she hopes to study the brain in her future educational pursuits.

Sophia’s cousin Isabella Ferrerya, 4, has a grandmother from Peru who died from early onset Alzheimer’s a month ago.  She had Diabetes before Alzheimer’s. There are studies being done on people with diabetes and how they may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  Patients should regularly see a physician to help monitor and control their health. 

YES Youth Councli members tour Abravenal Hall with the AAUC as part of "Making Sense of Alzheimer's" Month

The AAUC is working to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.  With the growing numbers of Alzheimer’s diagnosed, the AAUC has increased their “Walk To End Alzheimer’s” from 2 to 5 Walks.  They hope the public will support these walks and increase the public’s knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias. Our Youth Council is committed to help them do it!  

 “How can I help?”

If you are interested in joining us to fight Alzheimer’s, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Educate yourself about the disease and it’s affects
  • Provide outreach to the community
  • Raise funds for Alzheimer’s research 
  • Organize a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team together of neighbors, family, coworkers
  • Become involved in the walks and Galas
  • Volunteer at the Chapter for creative projects. 

Join the YES Youth Council in collaborating with the AAUC in promoting “Making Sense of Alzheimer’s” and understanding the importance of the five senses in Alzheimer’s disease.

How has Alzheimer’s affected you or your family?

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About mmissyb5

I am the Leadership and Mentoring Coordinator for Youth EmployAbility Service. After graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelors of Science in Public Relations I attained a job at the Division of Youth Services. I moved to the YES program and enjoy my job working with young adults immensely. You can check out our community involvement and workshops on Facebook at this link: facebook.com/youthservicesslc
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