Highlands College Students Learn About Alzheimer's Disease

Mr. Nicholas Hart, Public Policy and Community Outreach Specialist for the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, spoke this week to Psychology students at Highlands College. Mr. Hart’s presentation broadened the students’ awareness about the impact of this disease as well as about the process of volunteer work with fundraising for a cause. The students, along with their family members, had previously participated in the recent Butte Alzheimer’s Walk fundraiser.

Dr. Dave Gurchiek, Highlands College Dean, offered full support in the endorsement of students’ fund raising and volunteer work for the Alzheimer’s Foundation, “Our students are learning how to respond to the needs of their community through volunteer work and also acquire exemplary skills for working with older adults in Dr. Elyse Lovell’s psychology and gerontology courses.”

In the US, it is estimated that over five million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s with the prediction of an increase to 16 million people by 2050. This is a disease that is managed by caregivers, who are often unpaid family members, as well as paid caregivers. Last year alone, 49,000 caregivers provided 56,000,000 hours of unpaid care at a value of $708,000,000. Medicaid costs related to Alzheimer’s are estimated at $259 billion annually.

“Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in Montana,” Mr. Hart noted. “And given the intense level of caregiving, this disease also creates a financial management concern. We appreciate the partnership between Highlands College of Montana Tech and the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.”