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Alzheimer’s, dementia eyed Southwest Oklahoma Community Health Improvement Organization discusses ways to combat Alzheimer’s disease in Jackson County

Altus Times - 4/14/2017

The Southwest Oklahoma Health Improvement Organization or SWOKCHIO, a subcommittee of the Jackson County Community Health Action Team or JCCHAT, met in regular session Thursday at the Altus Municipal Complex at 509 S. Main St. in Altus.

The subcommittee works to increase access to health care services in Jackson County focusing on transportation and community health improvement.

Members making up the subcommittee have ties to health care, medical and elderly care service, as well as ties to municipal government and the history of health care development in Altus.

Members of the subcommittee discussed ways to spread the word about Alzheimer’s and dementia research.

“I want people to hear that Alzheimer’s is not some disease that we’re going to live with,” Chair Chris Riffle said. “It’s terrible and it’s not going away. I think it takes communities and families to get the message spread.”

The 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Southwest Oklahoma is scheduled for 9 a.m.Aug. 26 at Elmer Thomas Park in Lawton. Despite the opportunity, the members of SWOKCHIO discussed the possibility of organizing an Alzheimer’s walk in Altus in the fall.

“Lawton is a long way to go to participate,” Ginger Creech of Shortgrass Community Health Center said. “What would normally take an hour to do, is now taking half of the day.”

A lack of promotion, funding and the heat of an Oklahoma summer were mulled as possible barriers to the success of an Alzheimer’s awareness walk, though the reach of the disease has not passed over the county.

“Being in home health we know there are Alzheimer’s patients in the community and a support group that meets,” Mark Camp of Angels Home Health said.

The subcommittee discussed inviting those with loved ones affected by the disease to walk with, to honor or in memory of the victims of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Brainstorming other ways to bring attention to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the groups discussed the possibility of seeking vendors, silent auction donations, or support for a community dinner in conjunction with a potential walk.

Though no definitive plans have been made, the subcommittee hopes to continue to brainstorm ideas, access resources, and take action if possible.

“If we were to disappear in a month, would anyone miss us?” Riffle said. “I don’t want to be a part of a committee that doesn’t do anything. I want this committee to get things done.”

For more information contact Debbie New at 580-482-7308.


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