The Pilot Club of Laurinburg will gather on Thursday to show support for those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.
The group will hold a candlelight service from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Turnpike Road in observance of Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Support Month.
The service will incorporate songs, poetry, personal stories, inspirational readings, and scripture passages followed by the lighting of candles.
“It’s a very beautiful meaningful service, we light candles in memory or in honor of the person with Alzheimer’s,” said Gillie Edwards of the Laurinburg Pilot Club. “Most of the people who come are those that has experienced Alzheimer’s with a family member or friend, but anyone’s invited who would like to come.”
In 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the first proclamation designating that National Family Caregiver Month be celebrated in November. Every president since has followed this proclamation and endorsed its observance. The theme for 2012 is “Family Caregivers Matter” and it highlights the personal, social, and economic role that family caregivers perform.
One out of every five families is assisting someone with care that could cost taxpayers over $450 million if they were not sacrificing their own time, energy and financial resources. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America estimates that 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease and 80 percent of those are cared for at home.
Individuals can participate in Thursday’s service by lighting candles of honor to acknowledge a family caregiver’s dedication or in honor of someone living with Alzheimer’s. Candles will be lit for people who have passed away this year from the disease as well as for those who want to show solidarity and raise public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease - the only major disease that still has no cure or effective treatments. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Edwards said that the struggles of Alzheimer’s caregivers often go unnoticed.
“It’s something you never quite know until you experience it, but it is a very time-consuming thing because it is 24 hours a day,” said Edwards. “Our speaker is someone whose brother had Alzheimer’s, so she speaks from experience.”
Some 50 caregivers and supporters usually participate in the annual event, which is sponsored this year by the Family Caregiver Support Program at the Lumber River Council of Governments.
The event is open to anyone wishing to acknowledge a family member, friend, or neighbor living with Alzheimer’s disease or who would like to show their respect and support for local families who have taken on the role of caregiver for a frail elderly, chronically ill, or disabled person.