Press Releases

Press Releases

For media inquiries, contact Carol Steinberg, Executive Vice President,
Alzheimer's Foundation of America 866.AFA.8484 | media@alzfdn.org

2012 Press Releases

 

November 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Memory Screenings Edge into Mainstream on National Memory Screening Day
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Annual Event Includes Traditional and Nontraditional Sites  

NEW YORK, NY— On November 13, the Waterville Library in Waterville, OH, the Peace of Christ Parish in Rochester, NY, and Sykes’ Restaurant in Kalispell, MT will be offering the public more than their usual wealth of books, spiritual sanctuary and lunch, respectively. In addition, healthcare professionals will provide free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about memory concerns and brain health as part of National Memory Screening Day (NMSD), an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA).

Evidence that memory screenings are moving more into the mainstream, these three venues represent some of the more nontraditional sites across the nation that are holding screenings on NMSD on November 13 or another day during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November.

AFA, a national nonprofit organization, introduced the memory screening initiative in 2003. Local screening sites from the onset have primarily been doctors’ offices, hospitals, Alzheimer’s agencies, home care agencies and long-term care facilities; prominent institutions participating this year include the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, AZ and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa, FL, for example.

More recently, nontraditional sites have joined the bandwagon, and are among the 2,500 NMSD sites on board this year. An increasing number of traditional and nontraditional venues are also holding screenings throughout the year as an outgrowth of NMSD.

“We’re seeing communities rally around this issue. It reflects a growing sense that this heartbreaking disease is so big, we must all be in this together,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.

“We are counting on local organizations to help bring memory concerns into the mainstream,” Hall said. “While it may seem unconventional for a healthcare professional to provide a memory screening at a community venue like a library, a house of worship or even a shopping mall, a decade of hands-on experience in testing hundreds of thousands of people through AFA’s memory screening initiative has made clear that these tools are an effective intervention—and can ultimately change people’s lives.”

On NMSD, qualified healthcare professionals administer the face-to-face screenings, which consist of questions and tasks, and take about five to ten minutes. The results are not a diagnosis, but can indicate whether someone should follow up with a healthcare professional.

AFA suggests memory screenings for anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; who believe they are at risk due to a family history of dementia; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.

Among the nontraditional sites, 42 libraries in several states will be collaborating with health-related agencies to offer screenings this year. For the first time, ten of 11 libraries in the Brazoria County Library System in Texas—all except a very small one—will host 14 free screenings and a speakers’ bureau on NMSD or throughout the month. Volunteer nurses and social workers will administer the screenings.

“It’s a lot less threatening to say, ‘Let’s just go to the library.’ It’s a friendly, welcoming environment without the stigma of the health care system that frightens so many people,” suggested Tom West, the library system’s adult program coordinator.

Brenda Mauster, founder of Gathering Place Interfaith Ministries, Angleton, TX, approached the library system about holding screenings as part of the agency’s year-long initiative to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in this rural area.

“I hope people who find out about [the screenings] will be encouraged if they have noted a cognitive deficit in their parents or spouse to do something about it instead of putting it off,” she said.

In addition, the public can find screenings at independent pharmacies and retail chains nationwide. All 922 Kmart pharmacies nationwide will provide memory screenings, as well as blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings, on November 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. And nearly 50 Fred Meyer stores in Alabama, Idaho, Oregon and Washington offer screenings every day by appointment year-round.

Among houses of worship, All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK will be doing screenings for the second time this month, on November 14 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. At its event last week, 17 people, all aged 65 or older, were screened; of them, five were referred to their physicians for follow-up exams.

“Realizing the impact of the silver tsunami on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia, we think it’s important for people to know how they stand with their memory. We want to relieve their worries or refer them on to their physicians,” said Nancy Wilder, the church’s parish nurse whose parents both had Alzheimer’s disease.

NMSD marks its 10 th anniversary as the nation is focusing increasing attention on the escalating incidence of the brain disorder as the population ages. The federal government’s recently-released first National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease urges both a greater emphasis on early diagnosis and more education about dementia.

Fueling the concern that memory problems are not being addressed, an AFA survey of NMSD participants in 2010 found that 92 percent of those polled had never been given a screening by their primary healthcare provider; and 83 percent who were worried about their memory had not discussed their concerns with a healthcare provider.

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Warning signs include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion and personality changes.

To find a screening site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call (toll-free) 866-232-8484.

In 2012, more than 30 leading professional organizations, including the American Academy of Neurology, are supporting NMSD. Silver sponsors are Accera, Inc., Forest Laboratories, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Senior Helpers.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

***Note to TV Producers***: B-roll footage available upon request. Please contact Joana Casas, jcasas@alzfdn.org or 866-232-8484.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

October 10 , 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Returning Champion Wins Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s National Brain Game Challenge With Lightning Speed
Syndicated Crossword Puzzle Master Merl Reagle Put Skill and Passion Behind Contest

NEW YORK, NY – With much surprise and pride in cracking a crossword crafted by one of the nation's most recognized crossword puzzle constructors, Jeffrey Harris of Norwalk, CT recently raced to the finish in the “Pros” division to win the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) National Brain Game Challenge for the second year in a row, and Scott Weiss of Walkersville, MD took the “Public” division with a time that rivaled ace tournament winners who competed in the online contest.

Harris and Weiss both beat the next closest competitors in their divisions by a mere three minutes to each capture a $2,500 grand prize.

Merl Reagle, whose popular Sunday crossword puzzle is syndicated in 45 major newspapers across the country, teamed up with AFA for the second straight year to craft the multi-layered, word-twisting crossword as a means of supporting AFA’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and lifestyles that promote brain health. The brain disorder has struck both Reagle’s mother-in-law and, just recently, his mother.

After AFA disclosed the puzzle on its Web site on September 30, contestants had 24 hours to compete for a total of $7,000 in prizes. In publicizing the winners, AFA also announced today that more than 800 people from coast to coast registered for the contest this year—raising more than $20,000 to support the organization’s care-related programs and services nationwide.

“For many contestants, the National Brain Game Challenge marks a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. But for the growing number of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s disease, it means so much more. It highlights the daily challenges they face and the critical need for support,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.

Harris, a 27-year-old crossword fanatic and freelance editor, scrambled to finish the puzzle in just 33 minutes, thereby shaving 10 minutes off his previous year’s time.

“It was more challenging [than I expected], especially in the clues,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d win again, though, that was a pleasant surprise!”

Netting second and third place in the Pros division were Tyler Hinman of San Francisco and Daniel Katz of Providence, RI.

In the Public division, Weiss, a computer science professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, clocked in at 55 minutes for the grand prize. His grandmother had dementia, but Weiss said he would have entered the contest anyway. “It’s nice to be able to contribute,” he said.

On his heels, also around the one-hour mark, were Jeffrey Schwartz of New York, NY and Eric LeVasseur of Seal Beach, CA, who came in second and third, respectively.

The top solvers conceded that they were so focused on beating the clock that they did not even grasp until afterwards the puzzle’s intricate Alzheimer’s-related theme, including answers that involved dropping the letters “AD” from words in order to underscore a powerful message about eradicating the brain disorder, which is often abbreviated “AD.”

“I think that’s the danger of trying to speed-solve. You can’t savor all of the cleverness in the puzzle,” said Weiss, a former “Jeopardy!” champion who “never had a big win from crosswords until this one.”

Always wanting to create an online contest, Reagle got involved with AFA after he and his wife, Marie Haley, of Tampa, FL, were caregivers for “1,000 days” for Haley’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. This year it got even more personal for Reagle after his 82-year-old mother was similarly diagnosed.

In constructing the challenging puzzle, Reagle explained, “I thought that basing an entire puzzle on a seminal part of the disease's history would raise awareness of how the disease was ‘discovered’ and that it's not ‘recent’—it’s been a disease with a name for 111 years and without one for a lot longer, yet we’re still waiting for a cure and family caregivers still need an enormous amount of help.”

Hall said that it is critical for adults of all ages to regularly engage in mental activities, such as puzzles, that stimulate brain cells in order to promote successful aging.

“Adopting healthy lifestyles takes on even more urgency as the perfect storm keeps brewing—an aging population at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease and no cure on the horizon,” he said.

The benefit of brain boosters is not missed on Hinman, who tackles at least three crosswords a day. He won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament five years in a row, beginning in 2005 when he was only 20 years old.

“I consider the mental exercise to be a great bonus to the fun I have solving puzzles,” said Hinman, a memory training game developer.

Unlike the first year of the contest, the National Brain Game Challenge is now divided into two player categories, Pros and Public. The Pros are contestants with $200 or more in lifetime “crossword puzzle earnings,” whether through winning tournaments or creating crosswords for professional markets. The Public are those who have received less than $200 in lifetime puzzle earnings.

Reagle said he is “just speechless at the great turnout.”

“I especially want to say thanks to the Public players; I know the puzzle was on the hard side, and I just hope they understand how much I truly appreciate their taking a chance and participating, and helping to support such a great cause,” he said. “Next year, I promise—not so hard!”

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americas have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that results in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

September 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Anticipation Builds for Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s
2nd Annual National Brain Game Challenge
Contest Is ‘Personal’ for Syndicated Crossword Master Merl Reagle

NEW YORK, NY – The countdown to the showdown among the nation’s most avid crossword fans is on as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) 2 nd annual National Brain Game Challenge gets ready to kick off on September 30 at 3 p.m. (ET). Contestants will be racing the clock to correctly solve a one-of-a-kind crossword crafted by puzzle king Merl Reagle—and to win $7,000 in total prizes.

Reagle, whose popular Sunday crossword puzzle is syndicated in 45 newspapers, including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, has teamed up with AFA for the second straight year to craft the online game of skill as a means of supporting AFA’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and lifestyle choices that promote brain health.

This time, his interest in the cause is even more personal: Just this year, his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Reagle first got involved after he and his wife, Marie Haley, of Tampa, FL, were caregivers for “1,000 days” for Haley’s mother, who had a similar diagnosis.

“The National Brain Game Challenge is the perfect way for me to give back and let the public know about the importance of brain health and, in the process, raise awareness of a disease that has personally affected me not once, but twice,” said Reagle, who co-starred in the hit documentary “Wordplay” and has been a character, playing himself, on “The Simpsons.”

The contest is open to all individuals 18 and older and is divided into two player categories: “professionals” and “the public.” Registration requires a $25 entry fee and is currently open at www.alzfdn.org/challenge. Proceeds from the registration fees will support AFA’s mission to provide optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families through its programs and services nationwide.

“Reagle understands the plight of millions of Alzheimer’s caregivers across the nation today and is using his wordplay gift to challenge and strengthen our minds, and remind us about choices we can make to lead healthier lifestyles and age successfully,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.

Research suggests that regularly engaging in activities that stimulate the brain such as doing crossword puzzles, playing chess or reading may help improve memory and enhance motor skills, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that results in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

Up for grabs is a grand prize of $2,500 in each category, based on speed and accuracy. The “pros” are people who have ever won $200 or more in one or more crossword puzzle tournaments or have earned $200 or more creating crosswords for professional venues, such as newspapers. The “public” are those who have received less than $200 in lifetime crossword-related cash winnings or from creating crosswords for professional venues.

Participants will have online access to the puzzle on September 30 at 3 p.m. (ET) on a players-only Web page, and will have 24 hours to electronically submit their solutions to AFA. Other prizes will also be awarded in both categories. AFA will announce the winners on October 3.

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americas have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. With advanced age the biggest risk factor, its incidence is rising in line with the nation’s aging population.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

August 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Takes Gold in National Mature Media Awards
Award Recognizes Interactive ‘Care Crossroads’ Web Site for Family Caregivers

NEW YORK, NY -- The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was recently awarded a top prize for Care Crossroads, an innovative interactive Web site designed to meet the educational, emotional, practical and other emerging needs of caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, in the 21 st annual National Mature Media Awards.

Care Crossroads – www.carecrossroads.org – garnered the Gold award in the Web site category, and care ADvantage, AFA’s free, quarterly magazine for caregivers, received a Merit award in the publications and editorial category.

Organized annually by the Mature Market Resource Center, the awards are the nation’s largest awards program that recognizes the best marketing, communications, educational materials and programs for adults 50 and older.

Care Crossroads addresses the rising needs and expanding numbers of caregivers nationwide amidst the “silver tsunami” of Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that results in loss of memory and other intellectual and physical functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor, with the incidence doubling every five years after age 65. About 80 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease live at home, where families provide at least 75 percent of their care.

The interactive “community of care” site aims to help family caregivers meet other caregivers, learn about the disease from experts and peers, express their emotions through creative contributions, and above all, help diminish feelings of isolation so often experienced by caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

Part of the site’s educational materials include a “House of Care,” in which caregivers can click on specific rooms to discover strategies for coping with behavioral challenges, safety and daily routines, as well as recreational activities for people with the disease.

Moreover, the site fills a need for alternative support services, especially for caregivers whose demanding schedules prevent them from engaging at organized support groups or other programs at physical locations. For example, one unique feature is access to AFA’s social workers “live” via Skype and chat, as well as e-mail and phone calls to the organization’s toll-free hot line at 866-232-8484, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET). In addition, in partnership with Inspire, an online multi-disease health and wellness support community, caregivers can talk with like-minded peers on various issues—from diagnosis to end-of-life decision making—on an active discussion board.

AFA’s care ADvantage magazine gives a voice to dementia-specific issues in a practical and reader-friendly style. First introduced in 2004, the publication has amassed an estimated one million readers and is distributed free to caregivers, Alzheimer’s organizations, long-term care facilities and doctors’ offices nationwide. The current issue and archives as well as a subscription form are available at www.afacareadvantage.org.

“The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is honored that our focus on providing optimal support to the dementia caregiving population has been recognized,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “Understanding the toll this disease takes on a family, we look to provide services that fill gaps and offer caregivers support, guidance and inspiration. These are all essential to help caregivers cope with the daily challenges of this heartbreaking disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

April 9, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Host Free Educational Conference in New York
Entertainer David Cassidy, Nutrition Expert Joy Bauer Will Address Caregivers

NEW YORK, NY—As government leaders increasingly acknowledge the need for greater education about Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) will provide an understanding of the disease and practical strategies to handle daily challenges at a free, care-focused conference on May 18 in New York City.

The all-day “Five Boroughs Concepts in Care Conference” at the Crowne Plaza Hotel-Times Square will include separate sessions specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, family caregivers and healthcare professionals.

Award-winning entertainer and multi-platinum recording artist David Cassidy, well-known for starring in TV’s “The Partridge Family” and numerous roles on other TV shows and Broadway, will share “A Son’s Story” as the keynote luncheon speaker. Cassidy’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago, and he has since become a spokesperson and activist for the cause.

The conference will also feature Joy Bauer, nutrition and health expert for the “Today” show and a best-selling author, who will discuss smart lifestyle choices for brain health.

Also on the agenda is Teepa Snow, a renowned dementia care expert whose engaging presentations are packed with practical tips. Snow will present strategies to manage challenging behaviors, and to ensure better communication and safety.

Among other experts, Max Rudansky, M.D., chief of neurology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, NY, will present a medical update on Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions. The number is expected to triple by mid-century. It is estimated that more than 450,000 New Yorkers have Alzheimer’s disease, according to a report by the New York State Coordinating Council for Services Related to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.

In the report, council members emphasized that “one of the greatest challenges is debunking myths and demystifying Alzheimer’s disease,” and identified the immediate need to provide accurate information and outreach to the public and healthcare professionals.

Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of the New York-based AFA, noted that the upcoming educational conference meets that need.

“Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s disease reaches crisis proportions, more families are buckling under the stress of daily challenges,” Hall said. “By giving caregivers the right tools and resources, our hope is that we will empower them to effectively handle this disease and improve quality of life for themselves and their loved ones with dementia.”

The conference, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., will also include an exhibit hall and interactive activities.

Addressing the emotional toll of dementia, attendees will participate in a candle lighting ceremony to pay tribute to individuals with the disease. Also, AFA will display about 40 heartfelt panels from its AFA Quilt to Remember, the nation’s first large-scale quilt that portrays life stories of people affected by the brain disorder.

Focusing on symptoms of the disease, AFA will offer confidential memory screenings—a non-diagnostic tool that can signal a need for further evaluation; and the Virtual Dementia Tour, an interactive tool developed by Second Wind Dreams that helps people better understand what it feels like to have dementia.

The conference will also include breakfast and lunch, as well as respite care for individuals with dementia who need supervision while their family members attend the conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals is the presenting sponsor of the professional track, and Forest Laboratories, Inc. is a sponsor of the family caregiver track . For more information or to register, call 866-AFA-8484.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

 

March 5, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer's Foundation of America Elects New Chairman

NEW YORK, NY –The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s board of trustees recently elected Jeffrey Greener, Esq., of Great Neck, NY as the new chairman of this leading national organization.

The appointment comes at a time when the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is growing rapidly to meet the care-related needs of an increasing number of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and when the nation is focusing unprecedented attention on the brain disorder.

Greener, who is a partner at Rivkin Radler LLP., Uniondale, NY, has served as a member of AFA’s board since the organization was founded. AFA, based in New York, celebrated its 10 th anniversary last month.

“It has been gratifying to be a part of this outstanding organization and to have watched the Alzheimer’s Foundation achieve so many successes over the years,” Greener said. “There are tremendous opportunities ahead of us. I look forward to collaborating with members of the board and the AFA team to further impact people’s lives.”

In announcing Greener’s appointment, Eric J. Hall, AFA’s founding president and chief executive officer, said, “We are honored that Jeffrey Greener will be leading our organization at a critical juncture when more families than ever are relying on us to meet their needs. He shares the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s philosophy to ‘go above and beyond,’ and with his expertise and commitment, our momentum will continue to build.”

Greener succeeds Bert Brodsky, who was AFA’s founding chairman and led the board for the past 10 years. Brodsky, chairman and CEO of Sandata, Inc., Port Washington, NY, will continue to serve as a trustee.

“Words can’t express our heartfelt appreciation to Bert Brodsky for his exemplary leadership and significant contributions. There is no doubt that his tremendous passion for the cause and his business acumen have been a powerful force in helping the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America become what it is today,” Hall said.

AFA’s board provides input, support and resources to carry out the organization’s mission, and fiscal and operational responsibilities.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a leading national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

February 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Special Issue of Caregiver Magazine Shines Spotlight on Self-Care Experts Offer Growing Number of Affected Families Advice on Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease  

NEW YORK, NY—“One aspect of caregiving is universal: All who give care need to take care,” Jane Meier Hamilton, a registered nurse and former family caregiver, advises readers in an article in the latest care ADvantage magazine published by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Hamilton is one of several experts offering practical tips on managing stress and avoiding burnout in a special section on self-care in the winter 2012 issue of the quarterly magazine. The tips can help caregivers boost their own wellness while also increasing their capacity to care for loved ones.

Self-care is taking on increasing importance, given research showing that a caregiver’s physical and mental well-being are at risk when taking on primary responsibilities for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, increasing numbers of Americans are assuming this role as the incidence of the brain disorder escalates in line with the nation’s aging population.

The toll on caregivers is so huge, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged it several times in its “Draft National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease” released earlier this month. In outlining strategies for aiding caregivers, the plan notes that “the intensive support required for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can negatively impact the caregiver’s health and well-being.”

Hamilton of Gwynedd Valley, PA has been a caregiver herself—four different times for family members plus 35 years as a nurse. Sharing her knowledge, she tells other caregivers to first pinpoint their sources of stress, and then take action, including adjusting their attitude, using problem-solving skills when possible, and avoiding “stress-numbing” behaviors like overeating and alcohol consumption.

In another article, Eboni Green, Ph.D., R.N., offers a quiz to help caregivers determine their own state of wellness and a model to attain optimal wellness. According to her “Caregiver Wellness: U Model,” caregivers should focus on social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience “necessary for you to take charge of your health on a holistic basis.”

Green, co-founder of Omaha-based Caregiver Support Services encourages caregivers to view the process as ongoing and to repeatedly re-evaluate their state of wellness, especially since caregivers’ roles may continue to evolve as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

The articles provided an aha moment for one reader who subsequently submitted a letter to the editor of care ADvantage.

“When I read the section ‘Adjust your attitude—Think ‘I can do this!' I gasped. I realized my inner mantra was ‘I can't do this,’” said the family caregiver.

To further assist caregivers, the issue also features an interview with Gary Small, M.D., a renowned expert on brain health whose new book, “Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,” just hit bookstores.

Asked what caregivers can realistically do to preserve their own brain health given their limited time, Small said, “Caregivers can strive for daily exercise, a healthy diet and social engagement, and all three of these strategies sometimes can involve the person with the disease… If they exercise together, that will encourage social engagement, which is associated with better cognitive health as well.”

Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO, said care ADvantage magazine and AFA’s other resources are designed “to give caregivers the tools they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease to the best of their abilities.”

“It’s okay to take a break without feeling guilty,” he said. “Given the threat of health problems posed by 24/7 responsibilities, we hope that caregivers take this advice and run with it.”

care ADvantage is available by free subscription directly to caregivers and is distributed to doctors’ offices, senior centers, long-term care facilities and other venues nationwide. To subscribe, visit www.afacareadvantage.org or call 866-232-8484.

AFA’s other programs and services designed specifically for caregivers include counseling by licensed social workers via phone, e-mail, Skype and live chat; a monthly teleconference that addresses practical strategies; and a Web site for family caregivers, www.carecrossroads.org, that includes an Alzheimer’s-specific discussion board. AFA also has a division to educate and engage teens, especially those who serve as caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

November 11 , 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MORE THAN 40 LEADING ALZHEIMER’S ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR
DRAMATIC NEW STRATEGY TO STOP ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

WASHINGTON, DC – More than 40 of the nation’s leading voices and organizations in Alzheimer’s research, drug discovery and care today announced a series of aggressive and innovative recommendations to transform the current trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease, now slated to kill millions of Americans and to cost the nation over two trillion dollars in the coming decade. The recommendations by Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD) are directed to the Congressionally-mandated Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services – the committee tasked with advising on the first-ever national action plan to deal with the growing Alzheimer’s disease crisis.

“Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which is uniformly fatal and for which there are no effective treatments,” said Howard Fillit, MD, who is Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, which is a member of LEAD. “The Obama Administration has a unique opportunity to set the nation on a new course with Alzheimer’s disease. An entire generation of baby boomers will be turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 19 years, and we have no sustainable long-term answer for them to this disease epidemic. It cannot be emphasized enough that we are in a race against time to stop Alzheimer’s disease before it becomes America’s single largest public health, fiscal and economic threat.”

Alzheimer’s disease currently affects an estimated 5.1 million Americans and, absent disease-modifying treatments, that number is expected to rise exponentially in the coming decades. To significantly advance progress in Alzheimer’s research, care and prevention, experts who prepared the LEAD report propose the following vital recommendations:

“The time is now for America to rally the nation behind the challenging but achievable goal of stopping this disease in the next decade,” said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and Director of Harvard University’s Genetics and Aging Research Unit. “It is a bold goal, but it is doable, and only by setting a bold and inspiring goal will we be challenged to mobilize the best and the brightest in our nation to think 'out-of-the-box' to avoid the unimaginable costs of Alzheimer's to our nation and the millions of families personally affected by the disease.”

“Incremental steps and half measures are not enough to confront the growing Alzheimer’s crisis,” said George Vradenburg, Co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, a co-convenor of LEAD. “Instead, the Advisory Council should consider the daring directives outlined in this new report. From the day John Kennedy told America we would land on the moon, it took eight years for the Apollo 11 to touch down. With a transformational national plan, we could be on the verge of another giant leap for mankind.”

“This is a crisis situation that calls for a crisis-like response,” said Eric J. Hall, Founding President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, a co-convenor of LEAD. “Families have borne the financial and emotional toll of this disease for far too long. Now is our once-in-a-lifetime chance to give them relief, and to relieve future generations from having the threat of this disease hanging over them.”

Development of an integrated national plan to defeat Alzheimer’s disease is mandated under the new National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), signed by President Obama early this year.

LEAD was founded in 2008 and includes nationally renowned experts, advocacy groups and others involved in the Alzheimer’s community. Participants in LEAD actively supported the passage of NAPA and are prepared to serve as a resource to the Advisory Council as it moves forward with its review of a strategic plan to defeat Alzheimer’s disease.

The entire report, including the recommendations of four working groups – addressing the areas of research, clinical care, long-term care support and services, and drug development – can be found here.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

September 28, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Brain Game Challenge Winner Breaks Crossword Code in 43 Minutes
Other Winners Named in Unique Contest to Benefit Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--With an eye on a $5,000 top prize in a unique crossword contest to benefit the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), Jeffrey Harris of Norwalk, CT today was named the first place winner in the National Brain Game Challenge.

After racing with intense speed and precision accuracy, it took Harris just 43 minutes to crack the intricate code—which turned out to be tied to the classic Gulliver’s Travels.

Michael Sylvia of Seattle grabbed second place, completing the puzzle just 10 minutes later, and Andrew Feist of Newport News, VA ranked third with his submission that came in 65 minutes after the contest began at 3 p.m. ET on September 25.

Ace crossword constructor Merl Reagle, whose Sunday crossroads appear in more than 50 newspapers nationwide, had promised players a “full-body mental workout,” with clues that were buried three levels deep. As soon as participants downloaded the four crosswords in the contest, they were faced with puzzles of unusual shapes and word twists.

Excited to hear the news of his win, Harris, a 26-year-old crossword buff and tournament competitor, said, “I really enjoyed [the puzzles]! Very entertaining, and full of great wordplay, as one would expect from Merl.”

AFA sponsored the National Brain Game Challenge to creatively call attention to the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and to promote successful aging, while raising funds to supports its vital programs and services nationwide. The contest aligns with research that suggests that crossword puzzles and other mental activities are good for brain health.

Reagle, who spent months crafting the puzzles, chose Gulliver’s Travels as the theme because of author Jonathan Swift’s ties to dementia. He noted that when Swift died in 1745, he left the bulk of his estate, 12,000 pounds, to found a hospital for people with mental illness

Providing a look behind the crosswords, Reagle explained that his main chore in creating the puzzles was to “first, slow everyone down with a complex series of things to find, and second, to try to keep everyone on the same racetrack.”

“I knew going in that there were some very fast people playing, but I wanted to make sure that if there were ways to leap ahead, that the slower solvers could see them, too,” he said.

The puzzles ultimately led to four key answers that had a secret link in common. With the secret link turning out to be “Gulliver’s Travels,” the four key answers corresponded to the four parts of the book -- Randy Newman’s “Short People” indicated the Lilliputians; San Francisco’s “Giants” indicated the Brobdingnagians; “Scientists” indicated the impractical inhabitants of a floating island; and “Houyhnhnms” (pronounced “winnums”) were the intelligent horses of Part 4. Players sent their responses to a secret e-mail address revealed in one of the puzzles: gulliver@alzfdn.org.

Contestants called the National Brain Game Challenge “fun,” “exciting,” and “a blast.” Noted one participant: “Wow, what a great time that was. Took me five hours but I got there! Thanks for the crazy journey…or should I say ‘travels’?”

For Reagle, the contest fulfills a dream to both do an online puzzle contest and acknowledge the heroic role of caregivers. He and his wife, Marie Haley, of Tampa, FL were caregivers for “1,000 days” for Marie’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO, said AFA couldn’t have asked for a better master behind the magic of the contest.

“Merl really delivered, showing off not only his genius, but also his passion for our cause—and really helped us raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and a place to turn for help,” Hall said.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, affects as many as 5.1 million Americans. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and its incidence is rising in line with the nation’s aging population. Advanced age is the biggest risk factor.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

 

September 15, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Memory Screening Day Garners Widespread Support of Leading Professional Groups
November 15 Event Initiative Offers Education, Road to Diagnosis

NEW YORK, NY –In testament to the value of community-based memory screenings, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today announced that more than 30 leading professional organizations are supporting its annual National Memory Screening Day that will be held this year on November 15.

The announcement comes on the heels of a report released earlier this week by Alzheimer’s Disease International that found that “perhaps as many as 28 million of the world’s 36 million people with dementia have yet to receive a diagnosis, and therefore do not have access to treatment, information, and care.”

Coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November, AFA’s National Memory Screening Day offers free, confidential memory screenings and is aimed at promoting early detection of memory problems and appropriate intervention.

The results of the face-to-face screening, which consists of a series of questions and tasks, do not represent a diagnosis, and screeners encourage those with abnormal scores as well as those who still have concerns to pursue a full medical exam.

Supporters of this year’s event include the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Pharmacists Association, Catholic Health Association of the United States, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the National Council on Aging, as well as organizations that represent other degreed professionals, direct care employees, family caregivers and long-term care organizations. For a complete list, visit www.national memoryscreening.org.

“Memory screenings are a valuable way to begin a conversation about cognitive health and start on the path toward proper diagnosis,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “We must remove barriers now. Too many cases of Alzheimer’s disease are left undetected, especially since treatments and support services can influence quality of life for countless families.”

A 2009 article in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that general practitioners miss about half of dementia cases.

Further, an AFA report, “Memory Matters,” noted that there is ample evidence that screening can improve case identification. “Screening is a safe, cost-effective intervention that can reassure the healthy individual, promotes successful aging and, when indicated, directs individuals to appropriate clinical resources,” it said.

AFA surveys of past National Memory Screening Day participants have revealed that a large percentage had memory concerns but had not expressed them to healthcare professionals despite recent visits.

Last November, during the event, qualified healthcare professionals at approximately 2,300 sites nationwide gave screenings and educational materials to an estimated 60,000 Americans, and they provided educational materials about memory concerns, successful aging and resources to another 25,000 individuals who came in only to pick up information. Sites span all 50 states and include pharmacies, senior centers, Ys, houses of worship, assisted living facilities and doctor’s offices .

AFA encourages adults with memory concerns, a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or a desire to see how their memory is now and for future comparison to get screened.

Follow up with a clinician may reveal that the person’s memory problems stem from a reversible condition such as a vitamin deficiency or thyroid problem, or from an irreversible disorder like Alzheimer’s disease.

Early identification of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia allows affected individuals and their family members to benefit from available treatments that can help slow progression of symptoms, as well as to plan for the future and access social services support.

It is estimated that as many as five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century in line with the nation’s aging population. Advanced age is the greatest risk factor.

Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease: forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, and confusion over daily routines.

For information about National Memory Screening Day, including screening locations and how to sign up as a site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call 866-AFA-8484.

Event sponsors are: Senior Helpers, as silver sponsor; and Accera Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, and Novartis, as remembrance sponsors.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484 AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

September 7 , 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Seeks Input on National Plan to Beat Brain Disorder
Public Invited to Join September 12 National Conference Call

NEW YORK, NY—As experts begin to craft a national strategy to defeat Alzheimer’s disease, Christopher Nadeau, executive director of the New York Memory Center in Brooklyn, NY, strongly believes that a plan must include funding for local providers to adopt best practices in caregiving from across the country as well as provide care planning to families so they “can get in front of the disease as opposed to putting out fires.”

Nadeau’s comments will be among those that Eric J. Hall, founding president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), delivers to government and industry leaders as part of AFA’s input into the development of a national Alzheimer’s disease plan mandated by the National Alzheimer’s Disease Project Act.

Hall has been collecting feedback from the public and AFA’s 1,600 member organizations, like Nadeau of New York Memory Center, for several months via phone and e-mail.

He will hold another national conference call on September 12 at 3 p.m. (ET).

The upcoming “listening session” is the first since Hall was appointed last month by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to sit on the National Advisory Council on Research, Care and Services.

To participate on September 12, call (toll-free) 888-324-9356 and enter pass code 4475639#. Participants are asked to RSVP by 10 a.m. that day to saustin@alzfdn.org.

For this call, Hall is asking the public and AFA member organizations to focus on clinical care, research, long-term care and drug development. For example, he seeks input on increased funding for research and drug development and how doctors can more effectively diagnose the brain disorder.

“One of the best ways to tackle this escalating public health crisis is to listen to ideas from folks who have their ears to the ground and know the day-to-day needs of families in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease,” Hall said. “It’s our obligation to do right by these families. I intend to seize this opportunity to represent the growing number of Americans who are relying on the public and private sector for care and cure.”

In order to provide the most expansive input from all stakeholders, Hall is also assembling experts in various fields to consult with on an ongoing basis. Experts include renowned members of the research community.

Hall is among 12 federal and 12 non-federal designees who HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius named to the advisory council. They are tasked with providing input into the National Alzheimer’s Project, which will coordinate government efforts to prevent and treat the disease as well as create a national strategy for defeating the brain disorder.

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act was passed by Congress in December 2010 and signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. 

The advisory council will provide an initial evaluation of all federally funded efforts in Alzheimer’s disease research, clinical care, and long-term services and supports and their outcomes; recommendations for priority actions to expand, eliminate, coordinate or condense programs; recommendations to reduce the financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease on Medicare and other federally funded programs as well as on the families living with Alzheimer’s disease; and recommendations to improve health outcomes.

Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, currently affects more than 5.1 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death. With advanced age the greatest risk factor for the disease, the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century in line with the nation’s aging population.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line and Skype, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, National Memory Screening Day and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

August 7 , 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Host Online Puzzle Competition
Renowned Puzzle Master Lends His Expertise to the Cause

NEW YORK, NEW YORK—The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is calling on crossword buffs, novices up for a challenge and others in between to participate in its inaugural National Brain Game Challenge, an online game of skill created by one of the nation’s most admired puzzle masters.

For the National Brain Game Challenge, Merl Reagle, whose popular Sunday crossword is syndicated in 50 newspapers across the country, has crafted a series of challenging, fresh-themed puzzles that lead to a single solution.

Players pay a $25 registration fee, which will give them online access to the puzzles on September 25 at exactly 3 p.m. ET. The contest ends September 27, and AFA will announce the winners the following day. Up for grabs: a $5,000 grand prize and other prizes. To register and for more information, visit www.alzfdn.org.

The educational and fundraising event is aimed at boosting awareness of lifestyle choices that promote brain health; alerting the public about AFA as a resource for support services and information about memory concerns, successful aging and caregiving; and raising funds for AFA’s programs and services nationwide.

It stems from research that suggests that regular mental workouts may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease—an incurable brain disorder that is increasing in incidence nationwide and primarily affects the older population.

“The human brain thrives within an enriched environment filled with novel and complex stimuli. Mental stimulation in the form of crossword puzzles, language development, travel, visits to the museum, etc. has been found to enhance the health of the brain through the development of ‘brain reserve,’” said Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., chairman of AFA’s Prevention Advisory Board and a brain health expert whose latest book is entitled “Save Your Brain.”

Reagle and his wife, Marie Haley, of Tampa, FL have a personal interest in the cause, having been caregivers for “1,000 days” for Marie’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer's disease is devastating to the people who have it, but it's especially tough on family caregivers, who are perennially overworked and underfunded. After seeing its impact close up, I've always wanted to do my share to benefit the cause directly, and I thank AFA for giving me that chance,” said Reagle, who co-starred in the hit documentary “Wordplay” and has been a character, playing himself, on “The Simpsons.”

Registration for the National Brain Game Challenge begins August 7, which coincides with the birthday of Marie’s mother.

Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO, said this exciting event “highlights the increasing reality of Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of adapting healthy lifestyles that may promote successful aging.”

“With the National Brain Game Challenge, we hope to replace fear with fun, and send the message that it’s never too early or too late to embrace brain health,” he said.

Under the rules of the National Brain Game Challenge, players must electronically submit their solutions to each puzzle plus a final answer to AFA. AFA will determine the grand prize winner, runners-up and additional winners based on accuracy and speed. Besides the $5,000 grand prize, AFA will award a $1,000 second prize; $500 third prize, and more than a dozen $100 prizes to a specific sequence of winners, including the 5,000 th person with the correct response.

The contest is open to individuals aged 18 and older, except any finalist or winner in the A and B Division playoffs of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and/or any person who ever constructed a playoff puzzle for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, as well as AFA employees and their immediate families.

Complementing this online challenge, in a pilot program initiated by AFA, various AFA member organizations around the country will be hosting their own Brain Game Challenge events in their communities from September 10 to 24. In general, each local event will involve visual puzzles, math challenges and memory games that can be played by participants of all ages, abilities and interests simultaneously.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, affects as many as 5.1 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org. For specific information about successful aging, visit www.alzprevention.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

 

May 17 , 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer's Foundation of America Issues ‘Penny Wise, Pound Foolish’ Report Highlighting Government Funding Shortfall for Aging Research

NEW YORK, NY—As the nation prepares for a “silver tsunami,” a new report released today by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) highlights inadequate funding by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for research of aging-related illnesses and issues a call for the needed investments aimed at preventing, treating or curing chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, that mostly affect older Americans.

The report, entitled “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Fairness and Funding at the National Institute on Aging,” sheds light on this shortfall as Americans in general are anxious about healthcare concerns and costs and as the nation’s at-risk older population is booming—in a silver tsunami fueled by aging baby boomers and a longevity revolution. The number of Americans aged 65 and older will double to more than 88.5 million by 2050.

“In stark contrast to the rapidly-rising costs of healthcare for the aging, we as a nation are making a miniscule—and declining—investment in the prevention, treatment or cure of aging conditions,” the report said. “Simply put, our nation does not have the luxury of time to address the health research needs of this population.”

Susan Peschin, AFA’s vice president of public policy and the report’s author, explained, “Increased investment in understanding, preventing, treating or curing chronic diseases of the aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is perhaps the single most effective strategy in reducing national spending on healthcare and extending healthy life. We cannot afford to wait until it’s too late to correct this widening gap.”

The report reiterates that chronic disease associated with aging accounts for more than 75 percent of Medicare and other federal health expenditures.

And yet, out of each dollar appropriated to the National Institute of Health (NIH), only 3.6 cents goes toward supporting the work of the NIA, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the NIH and the lead institute on Alzheimer’s disease research. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2010, scientists saw a series of nominal increases and cuts that amounted to a 14.7 percent reduction in constant dollars for the NIA.

“As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease reaches crisis proportion, it is essential that researchers continue to work towards a breakthrough with this disease,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “The costs of not supporting Alzheimer’s disease research will pose even more of a tremendous burden to families, businesses and government. Moreover, lives are depending on this type of investment.”

Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

AFA and 20 partnering organizations are seeking a minimum $1.4 billion, an increase of $300 million, in the fiscal year 2012 NIH budget for the NIA—a funding level that would be consistent with comparable federal research investments initiatives at the NIH and, they say, “the minimum essential to sustain the research needed to make progress in attacking the chronic diseases that are driving massive increases in our national healthcare cost.”

In the area of Alzheimer’s disease, research is estimated to be only $469 million at NIH alone; $332.4 million of the NIA’s $1.1 billion budget (30 percent) went to Alzheimer’s disease research in 2009.

One of the major downfalls of reduced NIA funding is the loss of a generation or more of promising researchers in aging and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the report.

It cites the November 11, 2010 issue of Nature in which Richard Hodes, M.D., director of the NIA, said, “If we are less able to fund research—or are perceived to be less able—that will actually drive young and emerging investigators to fields other than aging. That would be a catastrophe at a time when such research is critically important.”

In contrast, the report cites evidence from past medical research related to other illnesses, which have led to breakthroughs with a profound impact on not only reducing mortality and morbidity, but on cutting healthcare costs. The cost-effectiveness of the polio vaccine since 1955 in the United States is estimated at $180 billion, and the $10 billion invested in basic research in HIV/AIDS between 1985 and 1995 saved $1.4 trillion in healthcare costs, for example.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line and Skype, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

 

April 4, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hundreds of Alzheimer’s Researchers, Service Providers Call on Congress to Preserve Vital NIH Research Funding
Reducing the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging would be self-defeating, increasing government costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – USAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America , co-facilitators of Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD)—a coalition of Alzheimer’s-serving organizations dedicated to increasing America’s commitment to stop Alzheimer’s disease—issued the following statements today. The statements are being issued in light of a letter sent today to Congress, signed by more than 480 Alzheimer’s researchers and service providers, urging members to maintain Fiscal Year 2010 funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging through the current fiscal year.

George Vradenburg, Co-Founder and Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s
“Chopping NIH funding would defeat our national objective of reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending through innovative drugs and treatments.  Preventing and curing what were at one time thought to be terminal diseases has been the largest single driver of American growth and prosperity in the 20 th century.  Preventing Alzheimer’s and other costly diseases will not only reduce healthcare costs but also make our workforce healthier, thus strengthening American competitiveness in the global marketplace. NIH and the vital basic research it supports is at the heart of that strategy.”

Eric J. Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
“Finding solutions to chronic diseases among our nation’s aging population must be moved to the front burner, especially as disorders like Alzheimer’s disease reach crisis proportion. Cutting NIH funding will halt or delay promising research on approaches to diagnose, prevent and treat age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease that are bankrupting Medicare and Medicaid. Worse, it is a devastating blow to the millions of individuals and family caregivers who rely on NIH for the possibility of a healthier tomorrow.  As Congress negotiates 2011 funding, I urge members from both political parties to put themselves in the shoes of people struggling with chronic diseases.  It doesn’t just make good fiscal sense to support NIH; it makes good moral sense.” 

View the full LEAD coalition letter here: http://c3178112.r12.cf0.rackcdn.com/LEADSenateLetter.pdf

###

USAgainstAlzheimer’s is a national advocacy campaign and advocacy network committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. An independent non-profit organization working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s community, USAgainstAlzheimer’s works to advance policies and elect candidates dedicated to stopping the disease by supporting research for a cure. For more information about USAgainstAlzheimer’s, visit http://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national non-profit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

March 30, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Unveils Interactive ‘Community of Care’ Web Site to Educate and Connect Family Caregivers
New Tool Responds to Increasing Needs, Numbers of Caregivers Nationwide

NEW YORK, NY—With the nation facing a huge swell in the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today unveiled an innovative, interactive “community of care” Web site that will help family caregivers meet other caregivers, learn about the brain disorder and connect “live” with experts.

Called Care Crossroads, the robust site—www.carecrossroads.org—addresses a major issue raised by caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease: a feeling of isolation and stigma. It also fills a growing need for alternate types of support services, especially for caregivers whose round-the-clock responsibilities prevent them from interacting in person at organized programs.

“Caregiving, especially for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, can be a very lonely as well as heartbreaking journey,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “Care Crossroads is the ultimate Internet coffee shop for caregivers. Family members can gather here to obtain guidance from experts and gain insight, support and inspiration from each other. Both are critical in coping with the enormous challenges they face today and preparing for what’s ahead.”

Among the site’s highly-versatile and unique features, AFA’s social workers are standing by to respond to questions and concerns on caregivers’ own communication terms: online via live Skype and chat, as well as e-mail and phone calls to the organization’s toll-free hot line at 866-232-8484.

Caregivers are introduced to other caregivers via “I Care” video stories and creative contributions, with more of each to be posted regularly.

In addition, in partnership with Inspire, an online multi-disease health and wellness support community, caregivers can talk with like-minded peers on various issues—from diagnosis to end-of-life decision making—on an active discussion board.

Then, featured in the site’s “learn” section, the “House of Care” is the go-to place where visitors can click on specific rooms to learn more about strategies for behavioral challenges, recreational activities and safety issues appropriate for the specific stages of the disease.

All of these various elements provide the type of support that caregivers like Judith Flynn, for example, desperately need. Her husband was diagnosed with the disease at age 53.

“To me, it’s very important that I be able to share my feelings about all the changes that have gone on in my life, the sadness that I feel in losing my husband to this disease,” said Flynn, in a video that welcomes visitors to the “meet” section of Care Crossroads.

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is expected to multiply three-fold by mid-century due largely to the nation’s aging population. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which primarily affects people 65 and older. Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease live at home, where families provide at least 75 percent of their care.

Care Crossroads was made possible by funding from Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

The new Web site joins a network of AFA Web sites and AFA’s multiple educational resources, including a free, quarterly magazine for caregivers, care ADvantage; a “Your Time to Care” DVD series on care issues, wandering, medication management and falls prevention; and a monthly teleconference that links up to 150 caregivers from across the country.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national non-profit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

 

February 28, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hundreds of Alzheimer's Researchers, Service Providers Urge U.S. Senate to Safeguard Federal Research Funding
House-passed funding cuts to National Institutes of Health ignore long-term fiscal impact of Alzheimer’s costs for Medicare, Medicaid and America’s families

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the U.S. Senate debates a spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year, nearly 400 Alzheimer’s researchers and service providers from across the country sent a letter today urging Senators to defend maintenance of FY2011 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at FY2010 funding levels or better.

Pointing to the already massive costs of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, which will only continue to accelerate as baby boomers turn 65, the letter highlights the fiscal wisdom of NIH investments aimed at preventing or curing a disease that threatens to bankrupt our healthcare system.

“Alzheimer’s is a cancer-sized problem requiring a cancer-sized response,” said Dr. Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Laureate, recent recipient of the National Medal of Science and director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco. “Yet, to date, the Alzheimer’s field is grossly underfunded, at a level of less than ten percent that of cancer and the level of meritorious peer-reviewed grants is at an all time low.”

As Congress addresses the deficit, the letter signatories also emphasize that shrinking already minimal support for research on Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related disorders at a time when our population is aging will only increase ballooning Medicare and Medicaid costs. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cost three times as much as those without Alzheimer’s disease; and for Medicaid, the costs of an Alzheimer’s beneficiary are nine times that of a non-Alzheimer’s beneficiary.

“If we do not invest today in biomedical innovation for major chronic diseases that affect older Americans, such as Alzheimer's disease, we will bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid in the years to come,” said George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of USAgainst Alzheimer’s. “This is a reality our nation simply cannot afford and cannot accept. Without striving for a cure for Alzheimer’s, we are accepting the fact that we will be a nation in the nursing home business—the iron-lung-and-leg-braces-business of the 21 st century.”

Last year, Alzheimer’s disease costs were estimated at $172 billion, yet the federal investment at the NIH in Alzheimer’s disease research was less than one percent of that amount. With an estimated 5.1 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence expected to increase drastically over the coming decades, the burden of the costly disease will fall on the shoulders of American families.

“Failing to support promising research for a cure to this devastating disease is morally indefensible, especially as millions of American families are already struggling to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Eric J. Hall, president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “The time for investment in NIH research is now.”

Cuts to NIH funding are also putting at risk the global competitive advantage the United States has traditionally enjoyed in bio-medical research.

“The best places to start new careers in Alzheimer’s research are no longer in the United States because the NIH is inadequately supported by the Federal budget," said Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health in New York. "The Federal government must adequately invest in Alzheimer’s research or lose a global advantage it has enjoyed for fifty years. Promising leads for preventing Alzheimer's in the aging Boomer population are dying on the vine. Sadly, I see no prospects for improvement.”

The letter was organized by USAgainst Alzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, two conveners of Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD), a coalition of Alzheimer’s-serving organizations committed to increasing America’s commitment to stop Alzheimer’s disease. Full text of the letter is available here: http://c3092662.r62.cf0.rackcdn.com/LEAD_Letter_to_the_US_Senate.pdf

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

 

December 21, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Receives 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator
Public Voted for Foundation to Be Charity Navigator’s Next Rated Organization

NEW YORK, NY—The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) announced today that it has received the highest rating--four stars--from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent evaluator of charitable organizations.

According to Charity Navigator, its four-star rating designates that AFA exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause. Only 32 percent of the more than 5,500 largest charities nationwide that Charity Navigator has evaluated for organizational efficiency and capacity have received this top ranking.

AFA was rated after it won a competition by Charity Navigator in which the company for the first time selected five organizations and asked the public to vote on which one it should evaluate next. Charity Navigator held the voting competition November 1 through 29, and announced it through social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, in addition to the organization’s blog and e-newsletter. Meanwhile, AFA had applied for the rating and was on a waiting list to be evaluated when it got picked for the contest.

“Receiving Charity Navigator’s four-star rank marks a significant stamp of approval on how we operate and provides additional reassurance to the families we serve and to current and prospective donors,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is committed to maximizing dollars spent on programs and services to ensure that families nationwide receive the help they need now and in the future.”

AFA is also an accredited charity by the Better Business Bureau and a recipient of the “Best in America” seal of excellence from Independent Charities of America. Its financial report is available at www.alzfdn.org.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a non-profit organization that unites more than 1,400 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hotline, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.


Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484