'Mah Jongg for Memory' luncheon attendees play in honor of those they have lost or are losing they have lost

Published on Sunday, 7 July 2013 01:10 - Written by BY REBECCA HOEFFNER rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

The Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County will have its annual Mah Jongg for Memory luncheon and game day on Thursday.

More than 450 local women attended last year’s event, which raised more than $40,000 for the organization.

The event includes games of mah jongg and bridge, a silent auction and luncheon.

Diane Wall has been involved with the Alzheimer’s Alliance for more than eight years, she said, and has been playing mah jongg for more than 30.

“It’s so fun; it’s addictive,” she said. “But it’s not really about us and our good time. Everyone has been touched by Alzheimer’s in some way. You can play in memory or in honor of people you’ve lost or are losing.”

From January to April, the Alzheimer’s Alliance served 246 new client inquires and is serving 614 clients regularly. The organization gave more than 450 hours of one-on-one support to clients. More than 400 people in the community attended educational events from January to April.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible, brain disorder with no known cause or cure,” according to information from the organization’s website. “Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, personality changes, disorientation and loss of language skills. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of irreversible dementia.”

The disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 70 percent of all dementias in people age 65 and older.

“The aging of the Baby Boomers along with their longevity indicates a coming tsunami of dementia-related diseases,” said Jamie Huff, community relations coordinator, in an email.

In 2002, a volunteer group, the “Alzheimer’s Support Auxiliary for People” (ASAP), was formed to “friend-raise” and “fund-raise” for the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County, according to information from Ms. Huff. Mah Jongg for Memory began the same year.

“ASAP speaks to the urgency of the cause and the need to do something as soon as possible to address Alzheimer’s related issues,’’ she said.