ROCHESTER, Minn. - June 21 marks summer solstice, the longest day of the year. But many days can feel like the longest day with people living with Alzheimer's, a type of memory impairment.
Today about 47 million people worldwide live with dementia and that number is expected to rise to 75 million by 2030. According to the Alzheimer's Association over 16 million people help care for someone with the disease.
This is why the association is holding what it calls, 'The Longest Day' on Thursday. It's a day to bring awareness to the disease and people who live with it or care for others whom live with it.
Karen Hanson helps people with have Alzheimer's through her line of work and helps take care of her mom who was diagnosed with Alzehimer's about 7 years go. She knows firsthand why a day like this is needed.
"There are still a lot of people who are unaware and uneducated about the disease," she said. "We have a tendency to back away from people who we know have the disease and it's advanced to some of the later stages, just a fear of how we're going to handle them. I think education, not to walk away from friends and family when this disease happens to them but to stand by their side and walk them through the journey together."
Hanson said one of the hardest parts of caring for someone with disease, like her morther, is seeing them change.
"You know what they were capable of and what they were like and they're just not that person anymore," Hanson said. "She was my best friend and I think that's why it's hard for me too."
But the more people are educated on Alzheimer's, the more people can support others. Support is what helps Hanson.
"Just family and friends' support, people checking in with you," she said. "Or maybe somebody else who has that new diagnosis and for you to be able to walk alongside them and check in with them...that big support system you get...you can get through it as hard as it is."
Hanson said if The Longest Day helps one person get educated or support surrounding Alzheimer's it will be worth it.
People can recognize the day by simply taking time to do something they love or by stopping by one of these local events:
1. Rochester Athletic Club Tennis Challenge 2-8pm at Rochester Athletic Club.
2. Resident Walk 10am at Shorewood Senior Living
3. Rochester Duplicate Bridge Club at Hadley Creek Community Center