Alzheimer's advocates host Longest Day event at Park Square

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Photo Gallery | Purple in the Park on the Longest Day

PITTSFIELD — Plenty of sunshine, very warm temperatures and the color purple ushered in the first day of summer at Park Square.

The summer solstice on Monday was the appropriate time for the Berkshire Alzheimer's Partnership to host The Longest Day, a dawn to dusk event raising awareness of what state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier called "one of the cruelest diseases there is."

During the evening candlelight ceremony, the Pittsfield lawmaker recalled how, as a 12-year old, she and her family were devastated upon learning her mother Margaret Farley was diagnosed with a form of dementia.

Some 40 years ago, little was done for dementia or Alzheimer's patients and their loved ones.

"My dad had no support," she told the gathering dressed in purple. "What I did understand was my mother wasn't going to get better — she wasn't coming home."

Today, support groups, medical knowledge of the disease and some treatment are more prevalent, but the partnership feels there can never be enough awareness of Alzheimer's impact in the Berkshire and beyond.

Hence, on Monday from sunrise at 5;15 a.m. to sunset at 8:33 p.m. partnership volunteers marked off each hour of the day, signifying that every day can seem like the longest when one is a caregiver.

Park Square, adorned with purple ribbons and balloons, was transformed into a giant timepiece as a way to bring attention to the endurance, strength, and commitment to life of those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Nearly half of Americans know someone with Alzheimer's — two-thirds of those afflicted are women, according to the partnership.

Lynn Pandell, social worker and partnership member, understands the strain and frustration of dealing with Alzheimer's.

"I've seen the impact it has had on individuals and their families," she said. "All too often their needs aren't being heard and I can direct them to resources."

The Berkshire Alzheimer's Partnership is a first-year coalition of family caregivers, health care professionals, human services providers, and others working to support Berkshire families impacted by Alzheimer's and other dementia.

Karen Gold could have used the partnership 31 years ago when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"No support groups, no central place for information, no medications at all," Gold said

Not the case in 2016 as the Berkshire County Alzheimer's Resource Guide list 13 support groups and numerous health care facilities, home care organizations and social service agencies who work with Alzheimer/dementia patients.

The pamphlet is provided as a courtesy of the Berkshire Alzheimer's Partnership and available from Elder Services of Berkshire County.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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