Alzheimer's Foundation Of America Rolls Out Major "Care" Initiatives To Mark National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

NEW YORK, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is calling on all Americans to stand "together for care" this November, in recognition of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and the escalating number of families affected by Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses.

On November 1, AFA will officially kick off its new "Together for Care" campaign, urging businesses, community groups, schools and individuals "to come together, to collaborate and to care." The campaign encompasses awareness-raising, education and fundraising to enhance community resources and provide grants to families struggling with the costs of caring for their loved ones.

As part of this coming together for care during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, AFA also will hold two annual events. On November 10, the public is invited to light "candles of care" during AFA's National Commemorative Candle Lighting. This unique event unites Americans in paying tribute to their loved ones at local ceremonies held in communities across America on the same day.

Then, on AFA's National Memory Screening Day on November 16, healthcare professionals will provide free confidential screenings at community sites to those concerned about memory loss. National Memory Screening Day is the focal point of AFA's call for a national strategy that promotes early intervention and cognitive wellness.

Hundreds of sites across the country will be participating in each of these events. For specific locations, visit http://www.alzfdn.org/ or call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484.

The November initiatives are particularly poignant this year given the recent death of former President Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade and who issued the first proclamation for National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in 1983. Currently, an estimated five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, including one in ten aged 65 and older and nearly half aged 85 and older; the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century.

"With no cure on the horizon, it is time for the nation to turn its utmost attention to care. The emotional and financial toll of this disease on families is monumental. We all need to share the burden of care," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.

Hall added that early detection, medical and social services interventions, and successful aging are the best defenses right now against this heartbreaking disease. "It is essential that we continue to chip away at the stigma of this disease. Those with memory concerns must face their future with knowledge and support. Likewise, the public must step up and help. Together, we can change the face of care," he said.

Elizabeth Cohen, a columnist for the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and author of The House on Beartown Road, knows from her own experience in caring for her dad how monumental the role is. "Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease doesn't just tax your energy; it can tax your spirit as well," she said. She urges Alzheimer's caregivers "to reach out, and if you can't find the help you need the first time you do, reach out again. There is great solace in finding a community of like caregivers."

As part of its new Together for Care campaign, AFA will strive to ensure that care initiatives are in place as demand skyrockets for these services. With funds raised in the campaign, AFA will for the first time make grants available to individuals in need to help offset the cost of care, estimated at up to $36,000 annually to care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Other funds will bolster programs, such as respite care, adult day programs and support groups, which are offered by AFA member organizations.

The campaign also encourages the public's input into care initiatives. For example, AFA is inviting individuals to sign up as "care advocates," charged with raising awareness and funds in their communities and reporting back on local needs. Corporations can join AFA's Together for Care corporate round table, a vehicle to discuss how to best serve Americans with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

For more information, visit http://www.togetherforcare.org/ or call (toll- free) 866-AFA-8484.

AFA holds National Commemorative Candle Lighting and National Memory Screening Day each year to raise awareness of dementia, and stress the urgency of early detection and intervention. Those hosting candle lighting ceremonies and screening sites include local Alzheimer's agencies, senior centers, religious organizations, assisted living facilities, and research centers.

The AFA suggests screenings for anyone concerned about changes in memory or other intellectual functions. Signs that there might be a problem include forgetfulness about names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion, and erratic mood swings.

A screening, which averages ten minutes and consists of a series of tasks and questions to assess memory, could indicate whether the person should follow up with a complete medical exam; it is not used to diagnose any illness and does not replace consultation with a qualified professional.

Founded in 2002, AFA is a nonprofit organization composed of member agencies from coast to coast that provide direct educational and social services to support individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. AFA's services include a national toll-free hotline, counseling, educational materials, and a quarterly magazine for caregivers, Vantage(TM). For more information, visit http://www.alzfdn.org/ or call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

CONTACT: Carol Steinberg of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America,+1-866-232-8484

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