Feb 112016
 

Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women and two-thirds of the more than 15 million Americans providing care and support for someone with Alzheimer’s disease are women. This devastating disease places an unbalanced burden on women at work and at home, forcing them to make difficult choices about their careers, their relationships and  their futures.

As real a concern as breast cancer is to women’s health, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop AD over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.

So why does this disease seem to affect more women than men? At first glance, the answer may be that women generally live longer than men, making them more likely to reach the ages of greater risk. However, there is emerging evidence that suggests there may be unique biological reasons for these differences beyond longevity alone. These biological underpinnings may contribute to the underlying brain changes, progression and symptom manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.

There is evidence that biological sex differences may affect mortality in men differently than women, but how that affects Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia incidence is not clear. Do hormones play a role? What about our genes? Do lifestyle components such as sleep patterns, stress and depression influence sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease?

To tackle many of these questions head on, the Alzheimer’s Association convened top experts in the field of biological sex and Alzheimer’s disease to explore these issues in depth. The “Gender Vulnerability Related to Alzheimer’s Disease” think tank identified gaps in our knowledge and next steps in research needed to advance our understanding. During the think tank, three main topics were discussed: underlying biological mechanisms, the role of hormonal factors and the impact of lifestyle factors.

As a direct result of this think tank, the Alzheimer’s Association announced the new Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s (SAGA) grant funding program, aimed at supporting scientific investigation that addresses the gaps in our understanding of the role biological sex and related genetic, biological, lifestyle and societal factors may play in increasing vulnerability for Alzheimer’s. Additionally, projects funded through SAGA will help meet a need to incorporate learnings from the developing biology fields to merge the expanding field of sex biology research with Alzheimer’s pathophysiological studies.mariacarrillo

As with all of our grants, applications for SAGA funding will undergo the Alzheimer’s Association’s rigorous peer-review process. I look forward to sharing more about these grants when they are awarded later this year.

 

About the Author: Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., is Chief Science Officer, Medical and Scientific Relations, at the Alzheimer’s Association.

SAGA was made possible from the generous support of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative (WARI), a campaign that supports research grants specific to sex-biology and gender issues in Alzheimer’s and other dementias. To date, the Alzheimer’s Association has raised $1.6 million for the initiative, including a generous $1 million in support from the Sigma Kappa Foundation.

 

Feb 112016
 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are featuring video blog stories of couples who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. Setting any commercial hype around the Valentine’s Day holiday aside, love is all that really matters. Love is what brings couples together and helps them build lives together. Love is what keeps a care partner going on the difficult days. Enjoy the videos below to learn what Valentine’s Day means to those living with Alzheimer’s, from wedding days and lifelong commitment to the simple and sweet ways they show each other love on a daily basis.

Angie and John discuss John’s special way of showing Angie his love on the Valentine’s Day holiday before and after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

 

 

Nancy and Rod reflect on the best parts of each other and what they love most.

 

Tracy and Jennifer talk about getting married and the importance of being there for one another for the rest of their lives.

These videos originally appeared on www.alzheimersblog.org.
Jan 212016
 

“Was I there, too?” Mom asks as my dad tells us about a concert they attended Monday night.

“Of course,” he responds.

“I don’t remember,” Mom replies. “I don’t even know if I’m here or there.”

We laugh, because in context, it’s funny. What it means, however, is that Mom is aware of her memory loss, of her dislocation from time, of her inability to live beyond the moment.

We’ve accepted this about her. And in fact, as Mom’s abilities decline, some things are easier. Mom doesn’t fight me anymore when I need to cut her nails. She willingly holds hands when we cross the street. And, whereas before she rejected sandwiches for lunch, she happily eats them because we now cut them into bite-sized bits she can eat with a fork.broccoli

What remains a mystery is how Mom, who sits on the sidelines for most conversations, suddenly enters the fray with a zinging comment. Here’s an example from this afternoon.

As most of their bills are in Hebrew, Daddy and I have taken to going over them together to make sure he understands them. He has a pile of papers waiting for me when I get there, and as we sift through them, I notice that one whole stack is not for him. The address is right, but the name on the letter does not correspond to anyone in their apartment. When we finally decipher the last name (Hebrew is written without any vowels, so it is sometimes a guessing game as to how to pronounce words), Daddy realizes the papers are for their upstairs neighbors, the Pe’er family.

“I think they’ve both died,” Daddy says, “although, maybe she’s still alive.”

And then Mom, transliterating from Hebrew to make a joke: “What a pair they are.”

Zing.

Mom’s brain is functioning.

We laugh long and hard over that joke. It is a small celebration of her vitality and it makes us feel as if our efforts to keep her active and engaged do have an effect.

As I gather my things to head home, Mom tells me she’ll miss me. “I’m like a yo-yo,” I say. “I’m leaving now, but I keep coming back.”

“But when will I see you?”

“I’ll visit next week,” I promise. Mom is still with us. I want to experience that for as long as I can.

The thing about broccoli is that it’s good brain food. The broccoli kugel featured here is in honor of Mom’s phenomenal brain.

Broccoli Kugel

If you’re not overly fond of broccoli, you can substitute almost any other vegetable—cauliflower, squash and carrots, spinach, even cabbage—and still create a hearty vegetable side dish. My favorite: broccoli. This works with fresh broccoli, too.

800 grams (1.7 pounds) frozen thawed broccoli, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

4 eggs

4 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tsp mustard

4 Tbsp flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Sauté onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Let cool. In a large bowl, mix eggs, flour, mustard and mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add broccoli and onion mixture. Pour into a small casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until browned on sides and top.

About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at thelostkichen.org that chronicles through prose, poetry and recipes her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her unpublished cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook” is filled with advice for the novice cook, easy and elegant recipes and home-spun caregiver advice. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three.

 

Learn More:

Jan 122016
 

Let me start by simply saying thank you! Thank you for your tireless work in the medical field. You may be prescribing or handing her medication, and checking for side effects. Maybe you are the nurse’s aide who helps her get dressed in the morning and reminds her where the dining room is. Are you the social worker who takes my concerned calls? Or the lab technician who draws her routine blood work? Maybe you are the one who did her chest X-ray when she had that horrible cough.dil

Whatever role you play in the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, please know that I see you. I see how you care about and even love her. I hear you lovingly call her “honey” and “sweetie” and laugh with her when she is confusingly silly. You are so important in the life of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.

I am a healthcare professional myself, a nurse, but first I am human.  I am the daughter of an amazing woman who has been stricken with a horrible disease. I would like you to see the person my mom was, not the person she is now. Everyone with Alzheimer’s disease has a life story behind them. I would like you to hear Mom’s. She had a life before this disease took her away from us and into your care.

My mother is one of 15 children, and was raised on a farm in upstate New York. Of those 15 children, seven of them have died from, or currently have, Alzheimer’s disease. Our family suffers continually as we watch our dear mother fade farther and farther away from us. I hope you realize, that sometimes, you are not only taking care of my mom, you are taking care of her family. That sometimes your words comfort us and sometimes they anger us. We are really doing the best we can with this very important loss in our life.

So thank you for taking a step back — to see who my mom was before Alzheimer’s — as you care for her every day. And thank you for taking the time to get to know the stories of all the patients in your care with this disease. I bet you will find they led interesting lives. Please find the joy in them.

They need you so much. They need you to see them, to see they are just as human as you are. They need kindness and respect. They need you to help maneuver their very confusing days. They need dignity. They need silliness and smiles, compassion and love, patience and hugs. They need you, and their families need you.

About the Author:

Christine Dileone MSN, RN, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.  She uses the resources of the Alzheimer’s Association in her teaching, specifically on communication techniques with dementia patients to maintain dignity.  She is a Ph.D. nursing student at the University of Connecticut, and plans to continue research with individuals with Alzheimer’s.  She coordinates a monthly Alzheimer’s support group and is actively involved in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s® as well as The Champions in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Women’s Campaign.

 

Learn More:

Dec 152015
 

The holiday season that commences with Thanksgiving and concludes on New Year’s Day is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Even though I struggle with the daily demands of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this time of year is special because I am filled with the joy, peace and hope.

I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in November of 2009, so I’ve had lots of time to learn to cope with the challenges of this disease.

This will be my seventh Christmas season since my diagnosis. Here at the Hornback Homestead (a name we’ve given our family home), we go all out for Christmas. Decorating our home and grounds has been a family tradition for decades. Every room in our home has at least one themed tree. Some of our favorites include a Longaberger basket tree, family picture tree, nature tree, angel tree, military tree and a White House ornament tree. We start decorating right after Thanksgiving and usually complete the task within two weeks. At night, our home – which sits atop a small hill – gently glows with the warmth of thousands of white Christmas lights.hornbackfamily

In our neck of the woods, this time of year is celebrated with down-home gatherings of family and friends.

One especially wonderful time at the Hornback Homestead is Christmas morning breakfast. We serve platters of poached eggs, country ham, red-eye gravy, biscuits, smoke-cured bacon, special seasoned sausage and white sausage gravy. It is a delightful meal our family enjoys with my wife’s side of the family just before we open presents on Christmas morning.

It also has been our tradition to host a large open house for the community at our home. However, this tradition will change this year as I’m unable to handle large crowds as well as I once did. Instead, we will host smaller groups of friends and family at our home.

I’ve found that smaller groups are much easier for me to handle. If things get too hectic, I often leave the room and find a place of solitude until my stress and confusion subside. If I’m having trouble communicating, I simply listen and enjoy the company rather than attempt to join in the conversation. These strategies have made the holidays more enjoyable.

A huge part of our holiday traditions center on our faith.

We celebrate this time of year with our church family as we joyfully thank God for His many blessing throughout the year. Even in the midst of living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I have so much to be thankful for in my life: a devoted and caring wife, a loving and understanding family, a top-notch team of medical professionals, an active and caring Alzheimer’s Association, a new clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease, faithful and helpful friends, wonderful support groups and a compassionate and caring God who gives me strength for my daily battles.

As you enter this holiday season, let your heart be filled with the joy and peace which the angels declared over 2000 years ago.

To my wife and family, thank you for the joy you shower my life with, for making every day special and for loving me unconditionally. From our home at the Hornback Homestead, we pray that God’s rich blessing will blanket your home and family during this holiday season.

About the Author: Paul Hornback was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. He is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 National Early-Stage Advisory Group and encourages newly diagnosed individuals to stay positive and active.

Paul and his wife Sarah live in Hodgenville, KY. Together they have three children.

Dec 092015
 

“I don’t know if I’m lost or not,” Mom said as walked in the city. We were holding hands, the sun gracing us with warmth, the sheltering sky bright and blue.

I keep wondering what it’s like to feel that everything around you lacks substance, that what you knew a minute ago is now no longer familiar. What happens when your depth perception goes, and the general hubbub of the city becomes not just loud, but physically overwhelming? Or when you’re constantly feeling like something is missing—your bag, a shoe, your young child—but you don’t remember what it was or how to explain it.miriamblog

The other day as I was driving aound town, I suddenly realized I didn’t know where I was going. I could not remember how to navigate from point A to point B. The information I relied on was missing; it felt utterly blank inside my head.

Compared to some, Mom is doing great. She can still function in the world, to a lesser extent. We had a strange conversation at lunch where she asked me if my mother sang to me as a child. Who was I in her eyes, I wondered? Not her daughter. Not her sister. Who could I have been?

Sometimes it is enough to know that she enjoys my company. As I enjoy hers. As I leave my house each Tuesday and set out on my journey, I start narrowing my day’s focus. I put aside other thoughts, other chores, other aspects of me. I pack away my ego. I steel myself to the mystery, delight, and heartache of being with my child mother.

As we light the fourth candle of Chanukah tonight, let the light that shines so brightly from our individual flames light the darkness that is Alzheimer’s. Let us bring our precious loved ones into the light with us and treat them as kindly as we can.

I couldn’t let Chanukah pass by without making doughnuts. I love those ubiquitous fried dough balls. But who needs 600 calories every time you eat one! It’s not really about need, I know, but there are alternatives if you want to indulge without the shemen, oil, making you shamen, fat.

No-fry Doughnuts

These doughnuts are nearly as good as the real thing—sweet and light, and a whole lot fewer calories. Makes 12-16 bite-size doughnuts.

1 cup soy milk
¼ cup oil
¼ cup date honey
½ Tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups flour

Coffee Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp prepared coffee

Chocolate Glaze:

½ cup chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp water

Directions:

Heat soy milk, oil and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then let cool. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt, and form a small hollow in the flour. Pour warm milk mixture into bowl with flour and mix. Kneed, adding flour if needed, until dough is springy to the touch but not sticky. Form dough into small round balls and place on baking sheet, making sure to leave room for them to rise. Let rise in warm room for up to 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. For toppings: Coffee—Mix 2 Tbsp prepared coffee with 1 cup powdered sugar. Stir to remove lumps. Chocolate—Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 40 seconds. Stir to melt all the chips. Dip rounded top of doughnuts into one or both mixtures, then let sit so glaze will harden.

About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at thelostkichen.org that chronicles through prose, poetry and recipes her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her unpublished cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook” is filled with advice for the novice cook, easy and elegant recipes and home-spun caregiver advice. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three. You can visit her Facebook page here.

Nov 202015
 

There is a day for giving thanks, and now there is a day dedicated to giving back. December 1 marks the fourth year of Giving Tuesday, a global day of charitable giving. Thanks to our generous donor, Vicky Patel, your donation on Giving Tuesday can go twice as far. She’s agreed to give the Association $1 million if we can raise the same amount by December 31.

Giving Tuesday is fueled by the power of social media and by people just like you. Donate in the spirit of giving this season and share why you give with the hashtags #ENDALZ and #GivingTuesday. Join this global movement and support the fight to end Alzheimer’s by sharing your photos on Twitter and Instagram to see them featured here in this blog!

Rotz
“We give to the Alzheimer’s Association so that future children will never have to know how to pronounce Alzheimer’s.”— Tom Rotz
Fawn
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because of the millions of family caregivers who provide care every day. Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects the entire family. I give because I care about caregivers and the ones they love.”— Fawn Cothran
Mary
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because I have seen, lived and experienced the devastation that Alzheimer’s can cause. No one can put an end to this disease alone, but together, we can make a difference. By advocating and raising funds, there is hope for the future.”— Mary Fus
Melissa
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association to honor my mom Anne, who died from Alzheimer’s, and to make sure others do not have to go through what we did as a family.”— Melissa Shilliday
Victor
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because my dad was diagnosed in 2013. I want to support our heroes — caregivers, family members and those living with Alzheimer’s. I love you, dad!”— Victor Guzman
Maya
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because of my Papa Charlie who has Alzheimer’s. I raise money to help find a cure so other kids don’t have to see their Papa sick like mine. Good things will come if you put your heart to it.”— Maya Leachman
Megg
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because I want to do my part to protect the memories we build every day. Losing my grandma to Alzheimer’s opened my eyes to the heartbreaking cognitive, emotional, and physical impact of the disease. My hope is that each dollar raised is a step closer to a cure.”— Meg Fertig

Nov 182015
 

Laura HanniganIt’s a lot easier to say change isn’t easy than it is to experience change yourself.  I recently found this out firsthand when I said goodbye to friends, residents and coworkers at Brookdale Hillsborough, where I served as the Clare Bridge program manager for two years. In becoming the new executive director at Brookdale Hamilton, I wouldn’t be far away geographically, but away from the “family” I had grown to love.

Clare Bridge is Brookdale’s individualized and person-centered program designed to meet the specific needs of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We celebrated many daily moments of success at Hillsborough, including the success of our Hillsborough Walk Team’s efforts and fundraisers.

Brookdale Hillsborough WalkOver the past three years, the Hillsborough Walk Team picked up momentum and grew from raising $600 the first year, $1,800 the next year, to $6,000 with matching gifts in 2014.

Brookdale working TogetherWalk to End Alzheimer’s is an energizing event that we all look forward to all year long. It was a chilly day this year, but our hearts were warmed by the incredible crowds and inspirational speeches, as people proudly carried team banners. We were all so honored to be part of this impressive turnout supporting the Alzheimer’s Association. Words cannot express the warm feeling we all shared and carried home in our hearts from hearing the speeches, receiving the flowers, and for sharing such a special day with so many people.

After this year’s Walk, we asked residents, their families and each other for additional fundraising ideas. Boy, did we get some good ones! Our tireless team entertained guests, prepared and served great food, decorated the building and made these events a wonderful time for all. A silent auction was our biggest hit.

Brookdale Taking in the Autction Bids

The silent auction really was a family affair.  Residents, their families and Brookdale associates donated all types of items to be auctioned off.  From hand knitted afghans to new appliances and Waterford crystal, the spirit of giving filled the community.  It was lots of fun and, at times, seriously competitive.  Our assisted living resident Roz and a Clare Bridge resident’s family helped man the silent auction, challenging others to outbid each other, and thus encouraging families to donate more to this great cause.

Brookdale Families Enjoying Silent Auction

Between our Walk and our other fundraising events, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride in the Brookdale Hillsborough family. I, like so many others, have had family members who have had Alzheimer’s. I was touched by my grandmother’s experience and by the rough time my fun-loving uncle had with the disease.  When I play a tiny part in helping someone live at the highest level they can, I am so touched by the moment, and know I’m getting far more than I give.

Laura Hannigan and her Brookdale team of community associates, residents and resident families exceeded their wildest fundraising dreams for the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Nov 102015
 

When I was in graduate school, I lived in an apartment with two roommates, and the three of us rotated the household responsibilities of cleaning and cooking. During a week when it was his turn to cook, my one roommate told us about a free dinner on campus. At the time, I was seeing a girl I had been dating throughout college, but that night I talked for two hours with a girl that sat across the table from me at the free church dinner. The girl’s name was Juanita, and I was intrigued by her.

That same night, I broke off the relationship with the girl I had been dating. Unbeknownst to me, Juanita, who was planning to be a single career woman, ran back to her dorm, threw her books on the floor and angrily declared to her roommate that she had met the man she was going to marry.  (She was furious because she didn’t want to get married.) Three months later, we did, and we have been married for 53 years.BOBW

I joined the Air Force and Juanita and I traveled all around the United States. We also spent four wonderful years in Germany. I served as a commander and also worked in the White House as a communication officer for President Jimmy Carter. Juanita and I had a very interesting and blissful life, along with a steady income.

What is different about our life now is that I have Alzheimer’s.

Juanita takes on more responsibility now as my care partner. There is more stress on her, and more guilt on me. I feel guilty that she has had to give up some of her life to be responsible for our lives. She doesn’t have as much “me” time, and although we spend more time together, we decided to give up life in a 3000-square-foot home to move into an apartment in a senior living community.

The wonderful thing about the community, however, is that we have a 125-resident support group, and there are quite a few couples like us. We have activities to participate in and new people to meet all the time, so our life is as good as it can be given our situation. Juanita leads a caregiver group that she started all on her own. Her previous work as a mental health counselor is a huge blessing for me and the others who participate, and she also gets a great deal of joy in helping people.

Looking back, we were more prepared than most.

As soon as Juanita noticed cognitive changes in my behavior, she encouraged me to see a doctor. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the “kitchen cabinet incident.” Juanita had asked me to get a pan from a cabinet I had been using for decades. She watched as I struggled to get it to open. I thought the door was stuck, and kept pulling and pulling. Finally, she said: “Honey – try the other side.” The cabinet opened immediately.

Juanita has been by my side every step of this journey since I was diagnosed five and a half years ago. I have a family history of Alzheimer’s and I knew the disease was potentially on the horizon. We were lucky in that we were somewhat prepared for it. I went to seminars and educated myself so that I was able skip the phases of anger, denial and grief and go straight to acceptance. Juanita was right there, ready to step into her new role, always so supportive and helpful. She is calm under pressure, intelligent, creative and bounces back quickly from any frustrations. She makes my emotional life easier by being so extremely patient. We still love to kid each other, although I now often miss the nuances. She is cheerful and has a wonderful sense of humor to this day despite how hard the situation can be on her.

I want her to know how much I love her. Caregivers and care partners don’t expect much appreciation, but they should celebrate the moments when they are recognized, because they deserve it. People with Alzheimer’s often go about life unaware of how much caregivers are giving and can’t show the appreciation for their sacrifice. So much attention is put on the person with Alzheimer’s instead of the caregiver, and I hope to see this change in my lifetime.

I want to see more formal attention given to the caregiver side of the house.

I don’t think that there can be ever be enough support for caregivers. Many people do not know how overwhelming and isolating caregiving can be. We need to support caregivers more now than ever and give them what they need.

Caregivers, stay patient. Don’t give up. What’s the old saying? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” There is so much expected of caregivers, and the reality is that they can’t be everything to everyone. Don’t let them fade into the background. Support them and let them know their worth. They are our lifeline. I know Juanita is mine.

 

About the Author: Bob Wellington was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010. He is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 National Early-Stage Advisory Group and participates in the Early-Stage Peer to Peer Outreach Program, making calls to newly diagnosed individuals.

Bob and Juanita live in Tacoma, Washington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 052015
 

I don’t have Alzheimer’s, and I’m not a caregiver for someone who does. I have no family members suffering from Alzheimer’s. In fact, my family has no history of Alzheimer’s disease.

My name is Wes, I’m 36 years old, and the Alzheimer’s Association has been my charity of choice for more than 10 years.wes1

“What?” “Why?”

It’s true; I’m not your “typical” advocate. But the truth is that this disease has made a lasting impression on me and in my life.

While working as a journalist in 2004, I was asked to write a story about Alzheimer’s. I didn’t know much about the disease. After completing some initial research, I felt the best way to tell the story was to interview people who were suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers and care partners.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; the interviews were heart-wrenching. At times, I cried. A grandmother was forgetting her granddaughter; a father his daughter. These wonderful and kind people were forgetting their most cherished memories and everything they once were as each day went by. The toll on their caregivers, I learned, was immense too.

Since then, the Alzheimer’s Association has been my charity of choice. Currently, I’m the marketing chair for the Miami Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and no matter where I’ve lived (Lafayette, St. Louis, Memphis and Miami), I’ve raised funds and have walked to end Alzheimer’s.

This year I had the opportunity to fly before I Walk. On July 30, as the 18th recipient of the JetBlue “Flying It Forward” ticket, I flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago to visit the Alzheimer’s Association National Office. My goal was to meet the leaders who are fighting this disease and take their best practices back to the Southeast Florida chapter.

I learned about the programs the Association offers, its research efforts, and Walk to End Alzheimer’s marketing and fundraising tips. I also visited the National Contact Center, where the 24/7 free, helpline is answered.  Did you know the National Contact Center handles an average of 3,750 calls a week?! I learned a lot during my visit and I will cherish the trip for the rest of my life.

wes2Here are a few of the things I learned:

  1. Wear your Walk shirt – Walk to End Alzheimer’s shirts are not just for Walks. Wear them throughout the year, especially in high-traffic areas such as airports, sporting events and shopping malls. People will approach you and ask about your involvement and the cause and may even share their personal stories.
  2. Memorize the 24/7 Helpline – If someone approaches you with interest in or needs help from the Alzheimer’s Association, offer the 800.272.3900 24/7 Helpline! You can also print business cards with the helpline info on it so you can easily hand it out.
  3. Tell your story – Storytelling allows you to make a connection with people. Share your story to increase your Walk fundraising and raise awareness of this disease. My personal fundraising spiked when WGN TV featured my trip after I had asked people to share my story through their social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
  4. Get creative – I have friends who always want me to join Facebook even though I’ve opposed it for years. But then I saw an opportunity: I told them that if I raised $10,000 to end Alzheimer’s, I would join, and many of them have donated!

Just as Alzheimer’s has made a lasting impression on me, I hope to make a lasting impression by continuing to join Walk every year. It’s important to note that JetBlue did not select me for the program that resulted in my visit to the Alzheimer’s Association National Office. Amy, the past recipient of the “Flying It Forward” ticket, chose me because she has two uncles who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

So when I walk in Miami in November, I’m now Walking for them too.

About the Author: Wes Milligan is a communications advisor at FedEx Express, Latin America & Caribbean Division, where he is responsible for internal and external communications. Wes lives and works in Miami. You can visit his Walk page here.

Learn More

Alz.org main site  |  Research  |  Advocacy  |  Care and support  |  Message boards  |  Disclaimer  |  Donate  |  Contact us  |  Sign up for e-news
© 2011 Alzheimer's Association | Blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha