Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) is a student-led club found in many high schools and usually attracts students that are interested is a career in healthcare. Each year National HOSA chooses to focus on one particular disease or disorder, for the 2015-2016 year the national focus was on Alzheimers.
For this particular year, the HOSA club at R-S Central High School wanted to do something to raise awareness for the disease as well as give back to their community. In 2016 the Alzheimers Association estimated that more than 5 million Americans are currently living with the disease. It was also estimated that family caregivers can lose up to $15,000 of their annual income per year to care for someone living with Alzheimers, oftentimes because they must reduce the number of hours they work or quit their job altogether. For some families, this means they may not get to go on vacation that year, but for others, it means they may miss meals or other necessities simply due to the overwhelming costs it takes to care for someone with Alzheimers. More than that, there is a great emotional toll due to the high amount of stress and constant attention that is required of these caregivers. The Alzheimers Association took a survey of caregivers and an astounding 74% stated that they were "somewhat" to "very" concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.
Because of the extreme amount of stress placed on these caregivers, R-S Central HOSA decided they wanted to do something to raise awareness of the disease and give back to these caregivers. They put together a fundraiser by selling special edition purple Lokai bracelets in the school, which is a popular brand with youth and the purple edition bracelets also represent Alzheimers Awareness. By doing this, they raised close to $500 and when deciding what to do with the proceeds, they knew they wanted to keep the money in the county.
The HOSA members contacted Amy Hamilton, who organizes and runs a support group for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimers. The meetings are held every third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 pm at the Perry Moore House in Rutherfordton. The HOSA members organized an activity where they were able to bake cookies with the family members suffering from Alzheimers. This provided a time of support and fellowship for the caregivers while their loved ones were being cared for.
The HOSA club was given an excellent opportunity to interact with those living with Alzheimers and the people responsible for caring for them and plan to participate in this activity every year.
More information on Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.alz.org/facts/