TEMPLE, Texas — It's estimated someone develops Alzheimer's Disease every 65 seconds in the US. In the early 2000s, Troy resident Savannah Perez-Villareal's grandmother was one of them.
"It's like a guessing game," she said. "Every day is a new day and we don't know if it's going to be a good day or a bad day."
She served as a caretaker for 12 years and after her grandmother passed away in 2020 decided to help raise awareness.
"We need to keep our elderly and loved ones safe, especially from this disease," Perez-Villareal said.
To recognize June as being Alzheimer's Awareness Month, Perez-Villareal has partnered with local organizations to create emergency contact tags and buttons asking people to be patient with them.
"It's unfortunate that we have a lot of elderly people who have this disease and live alone," she said. "They don't have people to go to the grocery store, they don't have help and they have to do it alone. What we want to do is be able to help them feel independent as long as we can."
She hopes if someone sees an elderly person walking around confused, they can step in and call for help.
Doctors say getting lost is not uncommon and this can be a great resource.
"That's a public health issue that we need to be educating anybody on the community about this disease," Dr. Chitra Hamilton, a geriatrician from Baylor, Scott and White, said. "It's not rare, 55 million people in the world are dealing with this."
Other symptoms of Alzheimer's can include having a hard time doing simple tasks, being easily confused, and experiencing short-term memory loss.
"It's really important to bring awareness to this so people can identify early symptoms in friends and family," Dr. Hamilton said.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's can be stressful, but Perez-Villlareal said she wants to help as much as possible.
"Help is coming, just be patient," she said. "We're trying."
The Young Daughter Funeral Home in Temple will be hosting an event on Thursday for people to order the buttons and tags. That will be starting at 4 p.m.