Fight Against Alzheimer's: Cowetan leans on family, friends after diagnosis

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Darlene Cooper is surrounded by her "great support system" at Saturday's Walk to End Alzheimer's at Ashley Park. From left are, seated, Tammy Prine, Darlene Cooper, Charles Cooper; kneeling, Kandi Prine; standing, Peyton Cooper, Cody Olah, Tiffany Thomas, Hunter Cooper, Mark Cooper and Pam Cooper.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER
winston@newnan.com
The Walk To End Alzheimer’s has extra meaning for Darlene Cooper and her family.
Mrs. Cooper has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She and her support group of family and friends were at Ashley Park for the local walk event on Saturday.
“I’m doing really well,” she said at the walk event.
“They’ll have a cure for this someday. They’re awfully close,” Mrs. Cooper said.
She has known she had Alzheimer’s “for about a year and a half,” she said.
“My mother had Alzheimer’s. She lived about nine years from the time she was diagnosed,” Mrs. Cooper said.
Medication has already given Mrs. Cooper some advantages her mother did not have in dealing with the disease. She said she and her husband, Charles, are aiming “to live just as much of life as we can,” she declared.
She also spoke of the importance of a support system. “Our kids are behind us in everything that we do,” Mrs. Cooper said with a confident smile.

Mrs. Cooper said when she says something a little goofy, she prefers to deal with it by “laughing instead of crying.”

She said she has two wonderful doctors, although she did not initially like one of them – the one who told her she had to give up her car keys.

There also is a therapist Mrs. Cooper described as “awesome.” “She challenges her brain,” Charles Cooper said.

Tammy Prine, Mrs. Cooper’s daughter, talked about the importance of raising awareness through events like the walk, published articles on Alzheimer’s and other avenues.

Prine spent a lot of time with her grandmother after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and recalled the emotional pain involved. “I don’t wish that on anybody,” Prine said.

Participant Rena Walker reflected on the value of getting people together to focus on Alzheimer’s. “Everybody needs to familiarize themselves with this disease,” she said.

Charles Cooper noted that – while people think of Alzheimer’s as something that affects the elderly – some people with symptoms are in their thirties. “You don’t have to be 65,” he said.

Prine said people need to know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s – forgetting recently learned information, difficulty performing familiar tasks, changes of personality, rapid changes in mood for no apparent reason, problems with language, disorientations as to time or place, poor or decreased judgement, problems with abstract thinking or misplacing things – particularly if they are found in unusual places.

People who did not get to participate in the walk in Newnan can take part in the one in Peachtree City this Saturday. The 13th annual Southern Crescent Walk to End Alzheimer’s will begin in the parking lot of the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater on McIntosh Trail.

Registration will start at 8 a.m. with the walk scheduled for 9:30 a.m. “Runners are also welcome,” said Dan Nelson, public awareness chair for the event.

The Peachtree City walk will be “a very upbeat family event, complete with kids and the family dog,” Nelson said. The Peachtree Jazz Edition will provide music before and after the 5K walk.

Free breakfast snacks will be available for walkers. Clowns from the Clowns With New Hope will offer balloon animals for children.

After the Walk, a free lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and chips will be prepared by the Kiwanis Club of Peachtree City.

Donations are being accepted until the end of November. For information or to donate, visit www.southernalzwalk.org .



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