All Saints' Episcopal Church has started a new Alzheimer's service mission beginning with a free education event Wednesday, Aug. 23, followed by 'Remembering on the Route' Sept. 13.

MIAMI – Miami's All Saints' Episcopal Church has announced the launch of a new Alzheimer's service mission. The new community initiative begins with a free educational event next week and will continue through an ongoing social support gathering starting in September.

"We were moved to begin this initiative for the community," said All Saints' Rev. Mary Koppel. "Sometimes you see a need, and you just say to yourself, 'I think I have a heart for this.'"

Koppel said All Saints' congregant Linda Smith, a former nurse who also served as the caregiver for her late father and both her in-laws, is who recognized in herself the calling to be a catalyst for a faith initiative addressing community needs with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

To begin, All Saints' will host the Alzheimer's Association Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. presenting the free program "10 Signs of Alzheimer's Disease," in the church's parish. The event is open to the public and will share common warning signs associated with Alzheimer's, along with information on diagnosis and treatment options.

The church's community efforts will then continue with the first of its planned 'Remembering on the Route' gatherings Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon. All Saints' Rev. Mary Koppel said the program will provide a place for those with Alzheimer's or Dementia and their caregivers to come for support, food, and fun provided by INTEGRIS Miami.

'Remembering on the Route' is modeled in the style of what is known as 'Memory Cafes,' a support group structure with a social twist that has its origins in the Netherlands. The idea being to provide a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other activities outside of their normal routines.

They also provide the opportunity for caregivers to find mutual support and exchange information.

"This is a way of helping caregivers in all they do," said Koppel. "It gives them a chance to interact with their loved ones in a way they usually don't get to. They get to see them smile and enjoy themselves. They also get the chance to talk to others who are dealing with the same kinds of things."

Koppel added that the program will also allow the church to get much-needed feedback from the community about its service needs and how to build upon and improve its faith initiative for Alzheimer's and Dementia.

"We want to understand the needs of our community and to keep this going," said Koppel. "We are excited to do it and hope many will come out and have the chance to benefit from this."

All Saints' is located at 225 B St. NW in Miami. For more information call 918-542-3662 or visit http://allsaintsmiami.epiok.org/.

Alzheimer's

According to a 2016 research study published by the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people aged 65 and older actively diagnosed with Alzheimer's in Oklahoma stands at approximately 62,000 with projections of a rise to about 76,000 by 2050.

Nationally the numbers are even more alarming with the same study reporting there are currently over five million Americans actively diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As the U.S. senior population continues to grow, it is projected that by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's will nearly triple to 13.8 million nationally.

Behind the statistics are the people living with Alzheimer's and their families and other caretakers. While the medical and economic implications of the disease are somewhat quantifiable, the scope of its social and emotional impact is harder to assess.

As research continues toward finding a cure, efforts are also ongoing in providing a better quality of life for those who have Alzheimer's and their caretakers.

The nonprofit Bright Focus Foundation highlights continual engagement in physical and mental exercise and activities that are of specific interest to the person with Alzheimer's as means for both sustaining cognitive abilities and quality of life, which makes programs like 'Remembering on the Route' all the more important.

Additional Support

Above all, clinical, religious and social organizations serving the needs of those with Alzheimer's and their caretakers stress the importance of being well informed about the disease and having a support system.

The Oklahoma Telephone Support Group Meets on the 3rd Thursday of every month from 1-2 p.m., call 918-392-5019 to enroll.

The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 support line is 1-800-272-3900.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.