By Laurel Coleman, MD — Kaua‘i Medical Clinic

Laurel Coleman, MD

It is common knowledge that we are living longer than ever before. Advances in public health, surgery, vaccines and medications for chronic diseases have contributed to longer life expectancies for many people.

Less discussed however is the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. More than five million people are living with dementia, and that number is rising rapidly. The greatest risk factor for developing dementia is increasing age — with nearly 50 percent of those over 85 years old needing help from others due to physical and cognitive problems.

This epidemic is extremely expensive. Medicare costs are three times higher for those with Alzheimer’s. Personal savings are exhausted. Family members are cutting their work-hours or quitting their jobs to help as caregivers. Women are more likely to be caregivers, and therefore are at risk of aging into poverty due to lack of retirement savings from years out of the workforce as caregivers.

The nation is waking up to this growing problem. More research money is being dedicated to Alzheimer’s, and more of us are planning for a future where we may need care support. Adopting a healthier lifestyle and staying mentally active may help to keep your brain sharp as you age, but we must do more. Since many of us are caregivers or going to be caregivers for a loved one, we must raise awareness about this issue.

Join us for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Kaua‘i on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Kapa‘a Beach/Soccer Park where we will have 1-3 mile walk routes along the bike path. Registration starts at 7 a.m. with the walk starting at 8 a.m. Join our honorary walk chair, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. as we raise funds for research and more support for family caregivers on island. Register online at

A special pre-walk event brings more attention to what we can do to bring joy and quality of life to those we know with dementia. The Sundance Film festival award-winning movie “Alive Inside” is a wonderful, positive movie about the role music plays to stimulate memory. It will be shown several times in July – sponsored by Wilcox Health. All screenings are free — come and see this powerful and uplifting film.

Alive Inside — free community showings:

Friday, July 21 at 6 p.m — Wilcox Hospital Conference Rooms

Saturday, July 22 at 7 a.m. – Walk with a Doc — followed by movie showing. Sponsored by Wilcox Health

Saturday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. – Blue Umi in Hanapepe. Sushi and refreshments for sale before the showing. Sponsored by Ohana Home Health

For additional questions about Alzheimer’s Disease, community education or events above, call Humberto Blanco at 245-3200 ext. 8242.