OXFORD – Alzheimer’s disease affects some 35 million people worldwide, including 5 million in the United States, said clinical psychologist and social work professor Jo Ann O’Quin.
“Dementia is a horrible disorder,” she said. “It’s a disease that we need to stop. It takes a toll physically, mentally, emotionally and economically.
She noted the costs of Alzheimer’s in caregiving and lost productivity is estimated at $640 billion per year.
“Money that we spend on this disease, if it were a country, would be the eighth leading country economically,” O’Quin said.
Her comments were part of a World Alzheimer’s Day observance at the University of Mississippi Museum on Tuesday in front of “Bardo of Rose,” an abstract sculpture on permanent exhibit and dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients and their families and caregivers.
“People have come to sit before it in reverence, to contemplate and, most importantly, to heal,” said museum director William Andrews. “In this symbolic and very powerful, emblematic way, it tells us something we need to know.”
The group formally announced the opening next month of Memory Makers, the city’s first respite program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, to be hosted at First Presbyterian Church and administered through RSVP.
The program will start Oct. 18 with a Monday-and-Thursday schedule to give patients four hours of music, exercise, social contact and other fun.
Volunteer Bill Arnold, who helped his wife, Dianne (now a social worker specializing in Alzheimer’s and other dementias), care for her father through Alzheimer’s, said, “This is something this community desperately needs.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal