COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Midlands went purple on Monday for "The Longest Day," honoring those who are battling Alzheimer's and the people who take care of them.
Nationwide and across South Carolina, events were held to honor caregivers, who experience their longest days every day by caring for Alzheimer's patients – as well as to raise funds for research and the Alzheimer's Association.
The most vocal of those advocates has a personal connection to the cause. Taylor Wilson, who is the spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association of South Carolina, has a grandmother who is battling the disease. Her cousin, Kelcey Mathis, is their grandmother's primary caregiver.
"My personal goal is to say 'thank you' to Kelcey. And also to let people know that I go purple because I have a grandmother who loved me. And I want all of us to see the Alzheimer's Association's vision of a world without Alzheimer's," Wilson said.
Wilson says it's important for people to understand the stress and uncertainty that factors into taking care of an Alzheimer's patient. Every day is a blank slate and some days – Kelcey has no idea what she's walking into.
"I'm on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," Kelcey said. "It's nerve-wracking that I think about this person every single day, every minute. When I go home I'm not really home, I'm still thinking about her. I'm wondering if she's okay. I'm wondering if she's sleeping well, if she's going to wake up and be confused."
Taylor and Kelcey's grandmother is one of 84,000 South Carolinians who suffers from the fatal disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, five million people struggle with the disease nationwide. Alzheimer's is sixth leading cause of death nationwide and it kills more than both breast and prostate cancer combined.
One in three seniors die with Alzheimer's or dementia. That's a staggering number that Wilson says will only increase if something doesn't change.
"When you're looking at 84,000 South Carolinians are facing Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, 300,000 caregivers are providing care. And that number is only going to go up if we don't find a cure," Wilson says.
She says it starts with the conversation, and sharing the stories of the caregivers who hold them up. For more information about clinical trials and Alzheimer's research, click here.
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