Saturday, November 30, 2013

Alzheimer's Disease: Meet Rick Phelps of Memory People

Meet Rick Phelps.

Rick worked 24+ years in law enforcement and as an EMT in Coshocton County, Ohio. He is a husband, father and grandfather. In June of 2010 at the age of 57, Rick was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Of all the people who have Alzheimer's disease, just about 5 percent develop symptoms before the age of 65, sometimes as early as their 30s.

Alzheimer’s Disease is stomping onto the radar of public health organizations, home health agencies, and hospitals. In 2012, Alzheimer’s disease became the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It’s estimated that Alzheimer's will cost the nation $203 billion in the year 2013. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

When Rick was given this devastating diagnosis, he saw the need for action. Using a platform that millions were already familiar with, Facebook, he created a group called Memory People. This Alzheimer's and dementia support group invites patients, caregivers, advocates and family members to share their journey, find comfort and understanding, and receive support. That was in November of 2010. Memory People is now approaching their 5,000th member.

In 2012 he co-wrote the song "While I Still Can" with his long time friend, Dan Mitchell. "While I Still Can" was written as a tribute to all those affected by dementia as it describes the love and loss that has come into his life since his diagnosis. Rick has also released a book, his story, under the same title, which takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride as he describes the years following his diagnosis. Rick has become a strong advocate for Alzheimer's Awareness, and he continues to change lives, one person at a time.

This Monday, December 2nd of 2013, I will have the pleasure of speaking with two of Rick's assistants: Mrs. Leeanne Chames and Mrs. Michele DeSocio. We will be discussing stories behind Alzheimer's Disease, available resources, and means of raising awareness of early onset Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's, and various types of Dementia. Meet us Monday, at 4pmPT/7pmET at #Nurseup. 

If you or a loved one have been touched by Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related disease, we encourage you to join us. 

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