Alzheimer's Walk hand-holding

Sara Anderson (left) holds hands with the receptionist for her care home, Jenny Madsen, at the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Dozens gathered in Bozeman on Sunday for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a movement that’s part of the largest national event to raise awareness and research funds for the disease.

People of all ages, clad in shades of purple, walked around the Bozeman Pond on Sunday afternoon with hopes of a cure, raising money with the shared dream that future generations won’t know what it’s like to see a loved one lose their memory.

With 200,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s in Montana, you don’t need to look far to find someone with a personal connection to the disease.

“I care about it because I lost my father two years ago to Alzheimer’s,” said Wendy Marquis, who raised over $600 this year for the cause. “Somebody you love and you know your whole life becomes a totally different person.”

Jenny Madsen has dedicated her life to working with people fighting Alzheimer’s, through her work as a receptionist at Spring Creek Inn Memory Care Community in Bozeman.

“I’m fourth-generation [caregiver] in my family. My father is [starting to have signs] of having this disease,” Madsen said. “And I don’t want it to get to my children.”

One of the people Madsen sees everyday through her work at Spring Creek Inn is Sara Anderson, who came to the walk with her family on Sunday.

Madsen and Anderson have grown close since Sara moved in in January, and they’ve taught each other a lot in the last few months.

“Sara is a very kind, very loving person,” Madsen explained. “She helps take care of me as much as I take care of her.”

With nearly 6 million people battling Alzheimer’s across the United States - and that number only rising - knowing how to care for loved ones is essential.

“You’re not alone. There are support groups,” Madsen reminds people. “And it’s okay to ask for help. I used to go to people’s homes as a home care provider and people are always trying to do it all by themselves. But it’s okay to ask for help, even if you come to somewhere where you just do a day stay.”

If you need help with someone you're caring for, or just have questions about Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association has a hotline to help you: 1-800-272-3900. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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