By: Sanford R. Altman, Esq., retired

Recently, I was honored, humbled and, frankly, very surprised to be chosen as the honorary chairperson for the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Orange County. This year, the walk is scheduled for Sept. 29 at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Orange County and in other locations and dates throughout New York and the country.

The goal of the walk is elevating public — and governmental — awareness, as well as raising funds to support research and local programs for families and those afflicted by this frightening and deadly disease.

Millions affected by Alzheimer’s

Currently, there are up to 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. In the Hudson Valley, there are at least 40,000 families affected. With the aging of the baby boomers, these numbers will increase exponentially. This affliction does not discriminate between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, active and sedentary. It can attack those in their 90s and those in their 50s. No one is immune.


When: Sept. 29
Time: Registration 9 a.m., walk 10 a.m.
Where: Thomas Bull Memorial Park, 211 Route 416, Montgomery
Information: or call 800-272-3900

A short time ago, I had the occasion to call a longtime family friend. She was one of the most intelligent, educated and capable business persons that I knew. It had not been all that long since I had spoken with her, and I was stunned to hear that she was now in the advanced stages of dementia and would be unable to speak with me.

Although I have been working with seniors for many years and knew full well that dementia can strike anyone, I could barely grasp that virtually everything I knew of this fine individual had been wiped out.

Many, many of us have had similar experiences on an even more personal level — our parents, close relatives, our dear friends. It is always heartbreaking. But make no mistake about it, there have been recent developments that are cause for hope.

Hope and progress

Two recent developments allow me to make this bold statement. The first, of course, is a proper diagnosis. Previously, the only way to specifically diagnose Alzheimer’s was during an autopsy. Finally, that’s changed with development of a PET scan that can definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s in a living patient.

Now we need the second step: a treatment. Scientists have discovered a gene mutation that appears in those who are not subject to Alzheimer’s. Concurrent with this gene mutation is the reduction in the normal brain substance called beta amyloid. This is the most powerful evidence yet that reducing an overabundance of this substance can be the key to a cure or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While there has been no completely successful method for reducing beta amyloid as yet, we now have a clear direction, a next substantial step, a path toward our goal. We’re now poised for a knockout punch, and this is what the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is all about.

Sanford R. Altman is an attorney practicing elder law, estate administration and estate planning with J&G in Walden. He is   Chairman of the Town of Montgomery Seniors Independence Project.