Walk to End Alzheimer’s is personal for organizer

Bob Kaftan knows firsthand how Alzheimer’s disease can affect a family.

When his mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2000, she was living in Lexington, Kentucky, and decided to become a part of cutting-edge research that was partially funded by the Alzheimer’s Association.

In 2004, she needed full-time care, so she and Kaftan’s father moved to Woodinville so she could live in an adult family home.

She passed away in 2008.

The disease is one that affects everyone in a family.

“It’s very difficult, my dad would visit her every day,” Kaftan said. “…They remain there physically, but they slowly fade away in their ability to walk and to talk, to express themselves. And so it becomes that your loved one is there physically in front of you but there’s really not a lot of mental activity that continues.”

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain where those who suffer from it slowly lose memories and the ability to perform physical activities.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, with the majority being older than 65.

Coupled with an increasing number of people who are older than 65, the number of new cases is projected to soar.

Every 66 seconds someone in the country develops the disease, which is projected to double by 2050, the website said.

It is also the only top 10 cause of death nationally that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed. It costs around $230 billion in treatment and other associated costs nationally each year.

Because of his family’s experience, Kaftan said he got involved in the Alzheimer’s Association as a volunteer.

While his mother was being treated, she helped in clinical trials of two now widely-used drugs, but the ultimate goal of his involvement is to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Kaftan serves as the chair of the Eastside Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is scheduled for Sept. 17 at the Redmond Town Center, with that in mind. To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/ycl5f5d8

“That’s our tagline of the walk this year, especially in the Eastside, is ‘Join the Fight for Alzheimer’s First Survivor,’” he said.

The Alzheimer’s Association puts half of its donations in Washington state to fund finding a cure for the disease, with the other half going toward caregivers and increasing access and support.

Kaftan personally takes on other tasks like giving presentations and talks about the disease.

He also does outreach to seniors about living an overall healthy life.

“Keeping your heart healthy will actually keep your brain healthy,” he said.

Registration for the Walk begins at 8:30 a.m. and Kaftan said there are many sponsorship opportunities for local businesses or organizations.

Last year, the walk attracted around 400 people and he hopes to grow that number this year.

They have also raised around one-third of their $145,000 goal.

For more information, visit www.alz.org.