Alzheimer’s Disease. It affects an estimated 5 million Americans. With numbers that staggering, it’s no surprise that the Alzheimer’s Association exists to provide resources, advocacy, and support for families affected by this disease.
As an elder law attorney, I regularly interact with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia, and I’ve witnessed firsthand some of the benefits the Alzheimer’s Association provides to both those who are suffering themselves and just as importantly, to their loved ones and caregivers. My career aside, I’ve seen loved ones suffer from dementia, and I’m passionate about the need for funding and research to help find a cure.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia in older adults. It’s a common misconception that if a person has a diagnosis of “dementia” but not a diagnosis of “Alzheimer’s Disease” that they cannot benefit from the services the Alzheimer’s Association has to offer–but this could not be further from the truth. The Alzheimer’s Association’s services are available to those suffering from any type of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s.
Lorna Chouinard, V.P. of Programs and Operations for the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association says that one of the most vital services the Alzheimer’s Association provides is its 24/7 helpline. The helpline allows those diagnosed, those caring for diagnosed individuals, and also anyone who simply has questions to talk to a helpline coordinator and/or a masters level social worker at any time of day or night. Whether it’s looking for resources, tips about activities of daily living or needing reassurance about a diagnosis and next steps, someone is always available to help at 800-292-3700.
Education is another key component of the Alzheimer’s Association services. Locally, our Miami Valley Chapter regularly offers educational sessions both online and in persons on topics like “Know the Ten Signs”, “Basics of Dementia”, and “Living with Alzheimer’s: For Caregivers.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is hugely volunteer driven. Locally there are only 15 paid staff members across the 9 county region, so volunteers are crucial. If you’re looking for a way to get involved, consider volunteering in an office, facilitating a support group, or delivering an education session. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to participate in one of the Association’s signature events, like The Walk To End Alzheimer’s, which will take place this year on October 6 at Fifth Third Field. According to Chouinard, by raising funds for the Association, you are assisting in raising awareness and supporting the Association’s mission “to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”
If you’re looking for a way to get involved immediately, the Association’s Longest Day event is going on now through the end of July. Officially, the main event culminates on June 21 on the summer solstice, when thousands of people will join together to show their love for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. People are hosting game nights, garage sales, bake sales, riding bikes, and more–all in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the cause. The idea is simple–take the extra time to do something you love on the longest day of the year, and do it in honor of all of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Personally, I’m organizing a casual 5k run with friends and calling it “The Longest Day 5k” to help raise awareness and give back with a little fundraising. For more information on The Longest Day, you can check it out on Facebook.
The Alzheimer’s Association touches so many lives every day. If anyone reading this is suffering, either personally or more indirectly through watching a loved one suffer, please know that you are not alone in this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help. There are resources, supports, and others that are traveling the same journey–so truly, no one should have to walk this road alone.