It’s tough to see a loved one slowly slip away in the grasp of Alzheimer’s disease.

Just ask Kate Jordan.

The 14-year-old’s grandmother first showed signs of Alzheimer’s 10 years ago. The disease has progressed quickly in the last five years, and now, Jordan’s grandmother is in a long-term care facility. She and her family visit every Sunday, but her grandmother doesn’t recognize her. “It’s sad,” she said.

Yesterday, Jordan and her mother, Lynda Colley, participated in the Manulife Walk for Memories.

Held at Carleton University’s fieldhouse, the walk had 388 participants and raised a record $148,017 for programs, education and research through the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County.

“This is fantastic,” said society spokeswoman Debbie Seto. “We raised $120,000 last year. This year, the goal was $140,000.”

There are 13,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Ottawa and Renfrew County.

Mayor Larry O’Brien, who proclaimed yesterday Alzheimer Awareness Day in Ottawa, recalled how the disease affected a business associate and his mother.

“I saw firsthand what (the disease) did to a very powerful man,” he said. “And my mom suffered from dementia. It was never formally diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, but she was very bad off before she passed about 10 years ago.”

The disease has also touched Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Jim Watson’s family.

Watson, whose mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, said he knows “firsthand that it is often the family that needs support because of the stress that Alzheimer’s puts on all of us,” he said.

And unless something is done, the numbers will increase, said president of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County Marg Egan. “That is why this is so very important.”

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