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Salisbury residents ‘paint the town purple’ for Alzheimer’s awareness

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Purple balloons adorned downtown sidewalks and storefronts Wednesday as a group of local residents sought to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.

The “Paint the Town Purple” campaign involved participants placing purple and white balloons throughout downtown. It attracted representatives from multiple elder care facilities in the area and Billy Constangy, the district director for U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson.

Wednesday was the second straight year for Paint the Town Purple.

“Last year was the first time we had done it, and it was such an awesome feeling when we looked up and down the street and all you could see was a sea of purple and white balloons,” said organizer Teresa Dakins, who works for Trinity at Home.

She said it’s important to raise awareness about challenges associated with Alzheimer’s because of stigmas associated with the disease.

“People don’t understand the disease,” she said. “There’s a stigma with it, and people don’t really understand it. We’ve got to kind of take that stigma away.”

The Alzheimer’s Association describes the disease as a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms develop slowly, the association’s website states. An early, common symptom is difficulty remembering new information, but the disease is not the only cause of memory loss.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dakins said there is a shortage of facilities for people with Alzheimer’s, which means they may have to live at home. Many people are caretakers for parents with Alzheimer’s, she said.

Caitlyn Haffey, who works for the Alzheimer’s Association, said most people are at least indirectly affected by the disease.

“More than likely, you know a neighbor or a friend or a friend of a friend who’s been impacted by Alzheimer’s,” Haffey said.

She said more than 160,000 North Carolinians live with the disease. The greatest known risk factor is getting older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Participants in Wednesday’s event included Crystal Reed, the sales manager at Brookdale Senior Living in Salisbury. Reed said staff members at Brookdale in Salisbury deal with residents who have Alzheimer’s disease.

“Whenever you know that the families are used to seeing that person, knowing their routine and them knowing each other and then to not know them, it’s very heartbreaking,” Reed said. “It’s OK to talk about it. It’s something that does need to be talked about more. … It is something that needs to be talked about because it can affect us all anytime and anywhere.”

For local help with Alzheimer’s, Dakins recommended calling Trinity at Home at 704-603-2776.

There’s also a 24/7 help line offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. The number is 800-272-3900.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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