Wednesday marks the start of a series of town halls focused on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. According to Washington state's Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death nationally and the third leading cause of death in Washington state. Currently, 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and 15 million Americans care for them.

The first town hall will take place at the Morgan Family YMCA in Tacoma beginning at 2 pm on Wednesday. The town halls will include experts from the Alzheimer’s community and caregivers who are assisting patients in the state.

Jeff Jensen will be a panelist at the discussion in Everett because the issue is very personal for him. His wife Taryn is in her fourth year after getting diagnosed with early onset dementia. The couple has been married for 40 years, they were high school sweethearts.

“For us the doctors told us she had about a 5-year to 6-year term and I asked, ‘is that for term of life, or is that just when this going to get really bad.’ And he said, ‘Just plan for 5 years,” Jensen said with emotion.

“It’s been a new season. It’s something that we’re learning more about, what the disease is about,” Jensen added. “There’s been so many people that have assisted. My sons, neighbors, friends, it takes a village. When you have a dementia patient that lives in the house with you, you need a lot of support.”

Jensen will be on the panel to provide support and guidance for other families in a similar situation. The Alzheimer’s Association says that currently there are 107,000 people in Washington state living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. By 2040 the number is expected to grow to about 270,000.

Recently, Governor Inslee signed off on the first Washington state plan to address Alzheimer’s and there is work on the federal level as well. All of these things will be discussed at the town halls.

If you are interested in attending a town hall there are several more taking place in different locations like Bellingham, Seattle, and Everett. You can find more details here.