‘Alzheimer’s tree’ to be dedicated

TUPELO – (AP) A 7-foot-tall welded metal tree covered in dog tags will be dedicated Friday in downtown Tupelo as part of a high school senior’s project called “Art for Alzheimer’s.”

Sadler Sanders tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that she was inspired by her grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s.

The tree will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Friday in Fairpark.

An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages had Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. This figure includes 5.2 million people aged 65 and older, and 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

More women than men have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Almost two-thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. Of the 5.2 million people over age 65 with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.4 million are women and 1.8 million are men.

Additional studies showed that while most people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are non-Hispanic whites, older African-Americans and Hispanics are proportionately more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

In 2010, 53 percent of Mississippians over the age of 65 had Alzheimer’s, while future projections indicate that by the year 2025, 65 percent of Mississippians over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer’s.

Sanders said she chose to focus on Alzheimer’s because previous seniors said to do something she was passionate about. She became too familiar with the disease when her grandfather, Dr. Johnny Sanders, was diagnosed with it about four years ago.

“I wanted to do something that someone like my grandmother could see it and remember my grandfather,” Sanders said.

She asked the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency in February for space in Fairpark.

“It’s a very popular place to go,” she said. “I think the tree would be a great contribution.”

The concrete was poured Monday.

Sanders said she’s spent the past few months welding the tree with 25 limbs. She’s selling dog tags for $15 with the money going to the national Alzheimer’s Association. The tags will be stamped with names and hung from the tree.

“The actual tree is my project,” she said. “The tags are a continuing thing that I hope will grow.”

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