FARMINGTON — The Northwest Regional Alzheimer's Association will host a chili cook-off party on Friday as part of its 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's campaign.

The campaign will consist of various fundraising activities throughout the year, and it culminates with a 5K walk on Sept. 14 at Berg Park in Farmington.

"Every year, we have a kick-off event for our campaign, and this year it's a chili cook-off," said event organizer and Northwest Regional manager, Katie Roper.

Seven contestants representing local assisted living facilities, home health agencies and nursing homes will be competing to win first place for the best chili.


What: Walk to End Alzheimer's Chili Cook-Off Party

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday

Where: Zion Lutheran Church, 7455 Foothills Drive, Farmington

More info: Call Katie Roper at 505-326-3680. For information about Savvy Caregivers classes and information about Alzheimer's disease or to sign up for the Walk to End Alzheimer's 5K event in September, call 1-800-272-3900 or go to


For $5, visitors can sample the chili and vote for their favorite. They will also receive a bowl of the chili of their choice, along with sides and a dessert. There will be a raffle, and information about Alzheimer's disease and local resources will be available.


Funds raised go to support Alzheimer's Association educational and training programs.

One such program is Savvy Caregiver, which is designed to help those who are caring for loved ones suffering from the disease. The free seven-week training consists of one two-hour session every Wednesday at the Sycamore Park Community Center in Farmington. The next training session begins May 15.

"Savvy Caregiver is designed to increase knowledge of how to deal with someone with Alzheimer's, while also reducing the stress the caregiver is going through," said Myles Copeland, communications and advocacy director for the Alzheimer's Association, New Mexico Chapter.

One out of every nine people over the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, Copeland said. That statistic increases to one-third among people over 85. Copeland said the disease is growing and becoming a huge problem as the U.S. population ages.

"There are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day nationwide," he said. "In 2010, there were 31,000 people in the nation with Alzheimer's. By 2025, it's projected there will be over 43,000 with the disease."

In New Mexico, Copeland said there are 105,000 people — mostly friends and family members — who provide unpaid care to someone with Alzheimer's. Copeland said that training for those non-medical caregivers is crucial.

"No one expects to end up being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's. It takes some training and practice to learn how to communicate and deal with someone who has this disease," he said, adding that 60 percent of caregivers have said they are under a significant amount of stress due to the demands of the disease. One-third report symptoms of depression.

Much of the stress, Copeland said, is caused by a tendency for loved ones to try to reason with Alzheimer's patients.

"People end up in arguments (with the patient), and they have to realize they can't convince them or reason with them, because you can't reason with someone who is rapidly losing their ability to reason," he said.

Because the patient is also rapidly losing his or her ability to encode memories, even if the caregiver manages to get a point across, the patient will not retain that memory. Copeland said the training teaches the caregiver to acknowledge what the patient is feeling, agree with him or her and move on.

"Because the classes are seven weeks long, students have a chance to practice what they've learned, then come back to class and talk about what worked and what didn't work," Copeland said.

The Alzheimer's Association also provides information on warning signs and how to distinguish age-related dementia from Alzheimer's.

One distinctive warning sign of the disease, Copeland said, includes forgetting an entire recent experience, not just portions of the experience. Because Alzheimer's patients lose their ability to encode memories, they will lose memories in reverse chronological order. In other words, they will not be able to recall recent events but may remember things that happened long ago.

Additional symptoms include problems with decision-making, repeatedly asking the same questions, personality changes, confusion and lack of judgment about the impact of actions.

"They become subject to more confusion, and the world becomes more overwhelming for them," said Copeland. "Everyone acts badly when they feel overwhelmed, and since someone with Alzheimer's can't filter the outside world out as easily, they do become overwhelmed and frustrated."

In addition to the free training, the Alzheimer's Association also provides other support for caregivers, such as free one-on-one consultations and reimbursement for respite help.

Roper said the Northwest Regional Alzheimer's Association is currently recruiting individuals or teams to sign up for September's Walk to End Alzheimer's event. There is no cost to sign up to walk, but participants are asked to fundraise by finding sponsors for their team. Individuals can choose to sign up and join any of the existing walking teams, Roper said.


Leigh Black Irvin can be reached at; 505-564-4610. Follow her on Twitter @irvindailytimes