Trailblazer students get Alzheimer's lesson

Dr. Thomas Lally teaches kids about memory loss


Dozens of fifth-graders at Trailblazer Elementary School got a lesson in Alzheimer's disease from an expert in the field: Dr. Thomas Lally, founder of Bloom Healthcare in Wheat Ridge.

Highline Place, an assisted living facility in Littleton, spearheaded the partnership with the school to help children understand the memory loss challenges their parents or grandparents may be facing. Lally visited the students on May 7.

“I think it helps them build empathy for people in our community,” said Molly Gnaegy, principal of Trailblazer Elementary, 9760 S. Hackbury St. “It helps them know the 'why' behind certain behavior.”

The number of Coloradans with Alzheimer's disease is expected to increase nearly 30 percent by 2025, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The majority of people who experience the disease are 65 and older, which in Highlands Ranch accounts for 9.7 percent of the population, about three times what it was in 2010, according to the U.S. Census.

Lally, who specializes in geriatric medicine, put complex medical diagnoses — a stroke, frontal lobe dementia and Alzheimer's — into layman's terms for the young children. He helped students create “brain hats,” decorated in different colors to represent key functions of the brain.

The goal, Lally said, was to make learning fun.

“I got it,” fifth-grader Lea Wilhelmsen said. “I didn't really know what (Alzheimer's) did to the brain, but now I do.”


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