Alzheimer's Disease on the rise in Central New York

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Story Updated: Mar 9, 2010

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Alzheimer's Association released its latest "2010 Facts and Figures" report on Tuesday.

The number of people living with the disease in Central New York is on the rise, but that doesn't surprise those who work with the Alzheimer's Association.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a significant threat not only for the nation, but also for the people of Upstate New York,” said Catherine James, Chief Executive Officer for Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter. “This disease does not discriminate based on race or ethnicity, nor has it stopped for the recession.”

Janice Durant of Oneida Castle knows about the disease all too well. Her mother, Lilian Durant, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005. Janice moved back home from Colorado to take care of her mother. She said she never fully understood the effects the disease would have on her mother, or her.

"I thought it made your forgetful and that's all it did. There's so much more to it," Durant said.

The "Facts and Figures" report shows 45,800 people who in Central New York have Alzheimer's. Oneida County has the second highest population of 7,393 people living with the disease in a 14-county area. Herkimer County has 1,944 people. Onondaga County has the highest population, with 11,818.

Durant said her mother started showing the symptoms of Alzheimer's by forgetting little things. It was only a matter of time, she said, when her mother didn't recognize familiar faces and she couldn't do simple tasks like eating.

"One of the hardest, hardest experiences of my life is watching her not know who I was and not know how to feed herself."

Julie Darling, regional director of the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, said she is not surprised by the numbers in the report.

"We have an aging population and the baby boomers are starting to fit into that demographic. We expect the numbers to triple by mid-century," Darling said.

The one thing the numbers do show them is what needs to be done to spread awareness. "There's so much more we need to be doing, there's so much more awareness. Many of these individuals don't even realize that the association is here and the services are available to them."

In Durant's case, she said she took advantage of every agency, support group and even books. Her mother passed away in January, and now her mission is to help others who are going through what she went through for 4 years.

"You really need education, you need to have people to talk to who are going through it or have gone through it, who can talk you down to the rough points. Because they become somebody else

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