UNSUNG HEROINE: Siobhan O’Grady, Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer

BY BARRY WARNER

DSCN6221According to the Alzheimer’s Association, progressive mental deterioration in old age has been recognized and described throughout history.  In 1906, a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer identified a collection of brain cell abnormalities as a disease.  In the 1960s, scientists discovered a link between cognitive decline and the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. In the medical community, this discovery formally recognized Alzheimer’s as a disease and not a normal part of aging.

Mentally having trouble following instructions, losing one’s orientation, displaying poor judgment and having difficulty managing money are all possible symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of people aged 65 or older with Alzheimer’s may triple from 5 million to 16 million barring medical breakthroughs.

Maria Paliotta, Rockland Office Director said, “In Rockland County, there are 5,000 to 6,000 families affected by the disease. As the disease progresses, it becomes a full-time effort for the caregivers to provide the necessary services for their loved ones. The non-profit Alzheimer’s Association of Rockland County offers information and free support services to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their  families.”

Siobhan O’Grady is one Rocklander who has dedicated countless hours to helping the afflicted

Paliotta said, “I met Siobhan two years ago, when she came to the office to find out about services for her father, John, who had Alzheimer’s. Siobhan and her mother became primary caregivers during the long journey from March 2009 to March 2014, when John passed away at the age of 69.  Siobhan is a spectacular person, ‘rallied the troops’ and has spent a great deal of effort to raise funds and awareness of the Alzheimer’s support groups. She hit the ground running, became a volunteer and joined the planning committee for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

Siobhan O’Grady said, “It is important for people to get involved, because the personal and medical costs related to Alzheimer’s disease will make or break this county. The big fundraiser that I held was ‘A Night Out with Team O’Grady.’ We had comedy, music, food and it was an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the life of my father John O’Grady. At the event, we raised $10,000 and for the year, the team has raised $14,000. The ‘Second Annual Night Out with Team O’Grady’ will be held in Emmet’s Castle, March 28, 2015 at 8 p.m. at the Blue Hill Golf Course.”

For additional information about future programs and events, call 845-639-6776 or access www.alz.org

CAPTION: Siobhan O’Grady has raised funds for the Rockland Chapter of the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association.  In general, funding comes from individual donors and groups aligned with the mission of the organization to provide support to those people living with the disease.