For those living with Alzheimer’s, every day can seem like the longest day of the year.
That’s why the Alzheimer’s Association has chosen the summer solstice, June 21, as a day to raise both funds and awareness.
On this day, people around the country are asked to do something that they love — or something that a family member with Alzheimer’s loved — and use that activity to raise funds to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association’s quest to end the disease.
“There are lots of different fundraisers planned, from puzzles to hiking to beer and games to concerts — anything goes,” said Stephanie Foster, development associate, Alzheimer’s Association, Oregon Chapter.
While this is a national day of awareness, there are several activities planned in Hood River. The first is a Sunshine Club Benefit Barbecue on Tuesday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hood River Alliance Church, 2650 Montello.
Brats and hamburgers will be served free of charge, and the first 25 guests will receive a goody bag. Those in attendance will also receive information about Alzheimer’s resources and programs, as well as see the Sunshine Club respite care program in action. Other activities include seated massages by Shauna Carter, children’s crafts, items made by Sunshine Club participants and a basket raffle.
The main raffle item will be a Traeger Pro 575; tickets are $1 and can be purchased during the barbecue or at Bryant Pipe & Supply, Hood River Valley Adult Center, Get Fit Stay Fit and Hawk’s Ridge. The drawing will be held on June 21 at Double Mountain Brewery — during another Longest Day event organized by Aging in the Gorge Alliance (AGA).
AGA holds its Longest Day Party from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on June 21 at Double Mountain; the business will donate $1 from each beer sold. Other events include a pub quiz, raffle, silent auction, live music and educational speakers.
Before that, on June 20, Hawks Ridge Assisted Living will hold a “Stay on Target” Nerf target walk and shoot around the Hawks Ridge campus beginning at 1 p.m. as their Longest Day fundraiser. For more information, call 541-387-4087. Be warned: Residents have been practicing.
All three of these events are in support of the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon & Southwest Washington Chapter.
One Oregon-wide event is “Writing Against the Darkness,” a group anyone can join (bit.ly/AgainstDark). The goal is to write from dawn to dusk on June 21 — but any day will work. The event is open to all writers; donations can be collected during the event as writers post to social media, said a press release.
The group behind the event is based in Lincoln City, but anyone can participate remotely and raise funds for Alzheimer’s Association through a writing project, Foster said.
“You can participate for the whole day or one hour, or the day before or the day after — just hold that space, doing something for a long period of time,” Foster said. “You can join that (Lincoln City) group or start one.”
Foster said that those seeking information on Alzheimer’s should start by calling the 24-hour Alzheimer’s Association helpline at 800-272-3900.
“That’s the best way to start, and it’s free,” Foster said. “You can call at 3 a.m. and a qualified person is on the phone. That’s pretty amazing.”
For those seeking information but are not ready to talk to anyone, the association’s website, alz.org, is another good place to start. There, you can find local resources, news and events, among other information.
More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and nearly 14 million will have the disease in 2050, said an Alzheimer’s Association press release. The cost for caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias was estimated to total $290 billion in 2018. Nearly one in every three seniors who die each year has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, continued the press release.
“We are working to find a cure and support those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s,” said Foster. “We want to get as many people involved (in Longest Day activities) as possible … (Longest Day) raises the awareness and saves the space — and every dollar will be put to very good use.”