The last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed at 7:30am on a rainy Sunday morning. I seriously considered going back to bed, but I didn’t. Instead I got up and headed to Montrose Harbor for the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk. I was pretty cranky the whole way there and when I got there, none of my teammates had arrived yet. I could have slept longer!
As I started to move out of my morning stupor, I noticed all of the people who were wearing t-shirts or carrying signs with pictures of loved ones that they had lost or were losing to Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t help but get choked up. These were real people who had once been vibrant and healthy. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the very real, human toll that the disease takes if you or a loved one are not directly affected. But this was not a somber event. It was a celebration of these lives. Over 4,000 people turned out to walk in spite of the rain. Everyone was laughing, smiling, cheering and sharing stories about the amazing lives of the people for whom they were walking. Team Marbles played our own version of the word game Hink Pink as we walked. It turned out to be a blast. I was glad that I participated.
Volunteering for a cause not only benefits the community, it is also beneficial to your own cognitive health. Studies have shown that staying engaged intellectually and socially with volunteer communities can reduce your risk of memory impairment. Volunteering often involves physical activity or doing activities that are new, both of which are important for maintaining a healthy brain. Research has even shown that donating to a cause activates pleasure areas in the brain. Giving really does make us feel better.
For more information about The Memory Walk in your community go to http://www.alz.org/oc/in_my_community_walk.asp