Most people know Alzheimer’s to be a terrible disease. However, very few realize that it is the third-leading cause of death in Williamson County and the fifth-leading cause of death in Tennessee.
“People are always surprised to hear this stat,” said Laura Musgrave, Williamson County community educator, advocate and ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Mid-South chapter.
To take this a step further, of all Alzheimer’s patients nationally, 2/3 are African American women.
“That number is staggering to me,” Musgrave said.
Musgrave set out to educate the underserved areas of Natchez Street and Hard Bargain, a largely African American population of Franklin, about the effects of Alzheimer’s. With assistance from the Tennessee Department of Health, Musgrave and her team put together BBQ&A, a lunch-and-learn event that featured keynote speaker Dr. David Hutchings, music from Rick Armentrout and lunch from MoeBetter BBQ.
The event, held in the parking lot at the county administration complex, drew about 50 interested people. But, Musgrave said if the event could reach and help just one person, then it was worth it.
“This was the first time doing this event, and we are very pleased with the turnout,” she said. “This area is underserved on education on this disease, and we want to do our part to help this community understand the warning signs and all the other problems that caregivers deal with when facing this disease.”
Hutchings, who specializes in dementia and Alzheimer’s care, discussed many facets of the disease, noting that prevention is the key. He discussed how a Mediterranean-style diet, exercise, brain activities, not eating late in the evening and getting plenty of sleep are great life habits that could help prevent the disease. He also took myriad questions from the audience.
A former health care CEO, Hutchings left that position to start his own practice specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s care.
“I wanted to have more patient contact and more patient care,” he said.
Franklin resident George Patton attended the event to learn more because his mother is suffering from the disease.
“It takes love and patience,” he said about caring for his mother. “Sometime she remembers me, sometimes not.”
Nate Grimes, a minister at Fowlkes Street Baptist Church in Franklin, is a caregiver for his aunt.
“This was a great event, and it is nice to know we can get support and information locally,” he said.
Musgrave also reached out to community leaders in hope that they would help embrace the event. Franklin Mayor Ken Moore was one of those who attended.
“It is important to educate our community about Alzheimer’s disease, how it affects patients, and also the impact on family members,” Moore said. “I support raising awareness and funding for research to cure this terrible disease.”
Musgrave and the team plan to have several lunch-and-learn sessions at the Williamson County Public Library.