When Oakland resident Sharon Brown’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 67, Sharon knew they were facing a hard road. Recently married, she contemplated divorce as she struggled to juggle her career and personal life with the stress of caregiving. “I didn’t want to burden my new husband,” she said. But luckily, “He was in it for the long haul. He’s been my rock throughout this entire ordeal.” Brown is one of 15 million individuals in the US who are providing unpaid care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. The emotional and physical toll caregiving can have on individuals is commonly overlooked. “Often times caregivers don’t know there is help available in their own communities,” said Alzheimer’s Association’s Craig Wingate. “They end up wearing themselves out … but they need to realize they are not alone.” The Alzheimer’s Association is offering a free conference, the fourth annual “African American Caregiving and Wellness Forum,” 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 11 at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St. in Oakland. Sharon Brown and other experts will speak about how Alzheimer’s disproportionally affects the African American community. “The latest Alzheimer’s Association statistics show African Americans are two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in comparison to other populations,” said Wingate. “This conference will … provide practical caregiving tips and offer the opportunity to get connected to help and support.” For information or to register contact www.alz.org/norcal or (800) 272-3900.
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