The Alzheimer’s Alliance of East Texas and its auxiliary hosts Mah Jongg for Memory for the 15th year this week. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Willow Brook Country Club, 3205 W. Erwin St.
It’s a large fundraiser for the organization, which helps fund programs and educate communities about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
The annual luncheon and games day also helps remember those in the community affected by dementia, and to remind people to be proactive about brain health.
The event draws more than 400 East Texas women each year and has raised over $350,000 for programs and services.
This includes an annual conference for caregivers, memory screenings, respite care for caregivers and project lifesaver - a tracking wristband and program that helps to rescue people with cognitive disorders.
Stephanie Taylor, the Alliance’s executive director, said all money raised stays in the county.
Officials estimate more than 3,500 people in Smith County older than 65 are currently living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
These numbers are expected to increase more than 40 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Alliance.
Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia also affect family members or caregivers. In Texas, there are 1.3 million unpaid caregivers giving more than $18 billion in unpaid hours for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. It adds more than $716 million in health care costs for caregivers in the state.
Alzheimer’s disease impacts women significantly, which is why many are in support of the annual mah jongg event in Tyler.
“About two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women, so it’s good to have an event where they can spread awareness, stay socially active and cognitively engaged,” Mrs. Taylor said.
“Brain games,” such as mah jongg and bridge, have been encouraged to help improve memory and delay dementia symptoms.
Lifestyle factors such as physical activity, balanced nutrition and stress management have also been recommended to reduce the risk of dementia.
Mrs. Taylor said while the organization works with various physicians, they hope to develop a program to provide resources to primary care doctors to help point out early signs of dementia in patients.
IF YOU GO:
What: 15th Annual Mah Jongg for Memory Luncheon and Games Day
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday
Where: Willow Brook Country Club, 3205 W. Erwin St.