March 26, 2013

Letters to the editor: Alzheimer's story raises urgent issues

I just read Kelley Bouchard's story on the new Alzheimer's plan ("Maine plan takes action to address Alzheimer's," March 15).

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Sally Tartre of Kennebunk, whose late mother had Alzheimer’s disease, spoke March 14 at a State House news conference on Maine’s first strategic plan to address dementia-related issues. The subject “really hits home for my family,” says a reader whose 86-year-old father died of Alzheimer’s/dementia March 3.

2013 File Photo by Kelley Bouchard/Staff Writer

This issue really hits home for my family, as we just lost our 86-year-old father on March 3 to Alzheimer's/dementia. Of course, with this disease you actually lose your loved one twice -- first as their personality slowly fades away over time and then they physically leave this earth.

It was a six-year journey for our family as the disease progressed, moving my parents from their longtime home in Bangor to a semi-assisted living in Portland and then moving my father to a locked Alzheimer's assisted-living facility and finally a rehab/nursing home facility.

There were unbelievable challenges and obstacles along the way, and there is so much that people need to know when their loved ones are diagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no road map to follow. The learning curve is enormous. Each journey is distinct.

Hopefully, this plan will create an environment that helps families prepare for and manage this disease and further educate the medical community in order to help families and caregivers effectively deal with the challenges of this disease.

Like cancer and heart disease, Alzheimer's disease is an increasingly urgent issue that is in need of attention, especially here in Maine, where we have one of the oldest populations in the country.

Thank you for bringing attention to this topic.

Peggy Leonard Markson


Sprayed along old rail line, pesticides affect trail, water

At a time when cancer rates in Maine are very high and wildlife shows damage and population losses due in part to chemical exposure, it seems wise to decrease the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Therefore, I support L.D. 920, "An Act to Prohibit Herbicide Spraying on Abandoned Railroad Lines."

Not only does the out-of-use Mountain Division rail line cross the southern end of Sebago Lake (Greater Portland's water supply), it also crosses the Presumpscot River as it heads toward Casco Bay.

The popular Mountain Division Trail runs alongside the rails for 10 of the 52 miles of the Maine route. Dogs, children and adults of all descriptions use this trail on bikes, strollers, wheelchairs, skis, snowshoes and afoot.

The spraying done by the Maine Department of Transportation is to keep the vegetation from injuring the rail-bed. The tracks have not seen train use for 30 years. It is to be expected that restoring train service would require major upgrades to the rail bed. The presence of weeds growing in the rail bed would not slow restoration.

Why should the state spend our money spraying the rail line for whatever future use, adding to the destructive, unhealthy use of herbicides close to recreational areas and important bodies of water?

Judy Curtis


We are daily deluged with news describing the insidious effects of toxic chemicals on our environment, our economy and our health. Today, the state of Maine is using poisonous pesticides in an area where families have been encouraged to bring their children for recreation: the Mountain Division Trail in Windham, Gorham, Standish and Fryeburg.

The Maine Department of Transportation sprays the abandoned rail line that borders the trail. This defies common sense since this action puts our children's health at risk. Pesticides have been shown to be associated with cancer, reproductive problems and learning disabilities.

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