WINCHESTER, VA- With a growing senior population, Winchester health professionals are trying to spread the word about aging and mental health disease.
"We're trying to make sure people are aware of what comes with the disease and to live a healthy life, a brain healthy life," says Nancy Niswander, the Program Outreach Manager of the Alzheimer's Association of the National Capitol Area.
Several senior health groups came together to bring their message to the streets. They offered free blood pressure screenings, depression screenings and senior housing and alzheimer's information.
"Alzheimer's disease is an epidemic at this point and time," Niswander says. "With 10,000 people a day turning 65, they have a one in eight chance of developing the disease. By the time they're 85 it's a 50/50 chance," she adds.
Officials with the Alzheimer's Association say that caring for people with alzheimer's can be the most stressful kind of care giving.
"I myself have been a care giver," Niswander says. "I took care of my father, my aunt and my father-in-law, who are all diagnosed with alzheimer's disease. It's incredibly stressful being a care giver," she adds.
To catch the early signs, Valley Health offered free private screenings for mental health and depression, which they say are interrelated.
"There are people that live with mental illness that are undiagnosed that are looking for some confirmation that what they're going through is relevant, that they're not alone," says Amy Ohm, Founder of treatmentdiaries.com.
"I think education with seniors is important," says Julie Alexander, a coach with Valley Health Behavioral Health. "A lot of folks in their generation, depression was not something that was openly discussed in their families or in the community. I think the more awareness that we have now, the more helpful," she adds.
The groups of women say they want to offer support. Each has a unique story and are there to lend a helping hand.