Alzheimer's Foundation of America
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | APRIL 12, 2005

Groundbreaking Conference to Guide Leaders of Florida-based Alzheimer's Groups
Aging Population Prompts Need for Enhanced Support


NEW YORK, NY—Executives of Florida-based organizations will gather on May 2 and 3 for a groundbreaking conference designed to help them meet the pressing challenges of servicing individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers, especially as a potential swell of new clients looms in line with the growing aging population in the state.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is presenting the training conference, called "Caring for the Community," with an unrestricted educational grant from Forest Laboratories, Inc.

Approximately 150 executives of grassroots Alzheimer's organizations, adult day programs, long-term care facilities and related groups will attend the two-day meeting at the Wyndham Palace Resort and Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL. For more information, call AFA at (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484.

"Florida organizations are committed to being the best they can be. But they are being stretched thinner and thinner to keep pace with the state's aging population. Our goal is to share the best practices of care that will better prepare them for today and the demands of tomorrow," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.

Prominent experts will guide officials on two major fronts: how to enhance their services based on the latest understanding of the disease and appropriate treatment options for all stages; and how to bolster their organization's capacity and successful outcomes to meet the needs of more and more families, including multi-ethnic groups.

Among the presenters, Eric Pfeiffer, M.D., director of the Suncoast Gerontology Center at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, will discuss the state of Alzheimer's disease today.

"It used to be said that you couldn't make a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease until you had a brain autopsy. Today, we can make the diagnosis in the living patient at any stage of the disease with about 90 to 95 percent accuracy. Moreover, in the last few years, Alzheimer's disease has become a treatable disorder. It is therefore highly desirable to make the diagnosis as early as possible, and to begin treatment as soon as a diagnosis is made," Pfeiffer said.

On a personal note, actress Deidre Hall, best known for creating the role of Dr. Marlena Evans on "Days of Our Lives," will share her family's experience with Alzheimer's disease.

Attendees will also have the rare opportunity to voice their concerns during a town hall session, laying the groundwork to enhance advocacy efforts for government support for the most urgent community-based care initiatives.

AFA tapped Florida for its first-ever training conference for Alzheimer's-related organizations due to the estimated 500,000 residents with the disease, and the projection that the number of cases there will nearly double by 2030. Florida has the highest percentage of residents aged 65 and older of any state in the nation, and it remains the top destination spot for retirees.

Alzheimer's disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, strikes one in ten aged 65 and older and nearly one in two aged 85 and older. Age poses the greatest risk factor.

The Alzheimer's Family Organization, New Port Richey, FL, is one agency that is already financially squeezed-and bracing for an influx of more clients. Its service area, which includes 100,000 people with Alzheimer's disease, contains some of Florida's fastest growing counties.

"This is an overwhelming number of people to try to service, and it's exacerbated by the fact that much of the area is rural. Lack of public transportation puts a tremendous strain on caregivers to secure health care, and greatly challenges us to reach the rural composite of our service area," said Dominick DePetrillo, the organization's executive director.

Organizations are also facing pressure to develop appropriate support services for a growing number of clients now being diagnosed in earlier stages of Alzheimer's disease, thanks to greater awareness of the disorder and more accessibility to sound diagnostic services, according to Mary M. Barnes, president and CEO of Alzheimer's Community Care, Inc., Palm Beach, FL.

To address this pressing health concern even further, AFA is piggybacking this meeting with another educational conference for those coping with this disease from another vantage point: family and professional caregivers. Called "Concepts in Care," the meeting will be held on May 3, also at the Wyndham Palace Resort and Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization that focuses on "together for care…in addition to cure" for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hotline, counseling by certified social workers, educational materials, local referrals, identification and search programs, and a free caregiver magazine, Vantage™ . For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 1-866-AFA-8484