MaryAnne Bukolt-Ryder and her husband, Herb Ryder, together on Lake Champlain.
The Northeastern New York Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center will be holding its annual Alzheimer’s Walk to Remember this Sunday, Sept. 25 rain or shine.
The walk will start outside Sibley Hall at Plattsburgh State University at 1:30 p.m. Registration will begin at noon.
The annual walk is held to raise money for local Alzheimer’s resource centers and to raise awareness about the educational services offered at the centers in Plattsburgh.
“Our goal is to raise more money every year and raise more awareness,” said Lythia Vera, project coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center. “We want to say to the people of the community that we are here in Clinton, Essex and Franklin county, and to get it out there that the sooner people recognize the signs of this disease the better.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. According to Alzheimer’s Association, symptoms will usually develop slowly and get more severe over time.
“Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect my husband it affects our entire family,” MaryAnne Bukolt-Ryder said.
Bukolt-Ryder, the speaker for the walk, has seen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease firsthand when her husband, Herb Ryder, started showing signs of dementia just three years into their marriage.
“Here my husband goes from being a very involved, active and successful business man to being basically totally dependant,” Bukolt-Ryder said.
Before developing dementia, Herb was an optician and officer for the state optical office, councilman for the city of Plattsburgh, and successful business owner of two optical stores.
“Sometimes he is unable to understand what’s going on. Any given moment he could wake up in a past life, before we met, and not recognize me, in the next moment he has no past and no future and is unable to understand the moment. There are times when he wakes up and asks me, ‘Who are you?’ and I tell him ‘I hope I'm your wife,’”Bukolt-Ryder said.
With the help of support groups and services like the Third Age Adult Day Care center in Plattsburgh people like Bukolt-Ryder and her husband are offered support.
“The center provides me with the ability to work and for my husband to be safe,”Bukolt-Ryder said.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatment is available to help temporarily slow the progression of dementia symptoms.
Raising awareness for the disease and offering help for those affected and their families is what Bukolt-Ryder said is the most important thing.
“These support groups give opportunity to compare with others who are going through the same thing and help family members realize we are not alone, and together can help develop strategies of how to deal with the problem,” she said.
On Sunday, walkers will have a choice to participate in a 1-, 3- or 5-mile route with a team or as a single walker.
After the walk, participants, family and friends can enjoy live music, belly dance performances, brain-pumping activities, Zumba, and food donated by local venders.
For more information about the walk or Alzheimer’s support, visit www.alzwalk.org.