FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | August 31, 2005
Alzheimer's Foundation Encourages Hurricane Victims with Alzheimer's Disease to Seek Help
Gulfport, MS Group Refers Callers to National Hotline; Baton Rouge Group Seeks Supplies
NEW YORK, NY—The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today urged families now coping with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to call its national toll-free hotline if they are in need of assistance related to the care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia—especially if they can not reach a local organization at this time.
AFA's toll-free hotline number is 866-AFA-8484 (866-232-8484), and it is staffed by certified social workers. They can provide counseling on psychological and practical issues and assist displaced families in finding nursing homes or Alzheimer's-related facilities for their loved ones in other areas.
In particular, AFA encouraged families who typically rely on in its member organization in Gulfport, MS, the Alzheimer's Foundation of the South-Mississippi Division, to call AFA's national hotline instead.
“This type of devastation is hard on everyone, but it is especially hard on people also dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Now more than ever, please reach out for help,” said Rosemary Hudgins, executive director of the Alzheimer's Foundation of the South.
Hudgins, who safely evacuated to Alabama, said her organization is not operating at this time, nor does she know the state of its offices in Gulfport.
AFA said that in addition to calling its national hotline, displaced residents can seek assistance for individuals with Alzheimer's disease from local organizations in areas where they have sought refuge. For example, at the Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area, an AFA member in Baton Rouge, LA, power has been restored and staff was back in the office today.
In a four-hour period since it opened at 8:30 am today, the Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area has fielded more than 100 calls, mostly from frantic families now sheltering loved ones with Alzheimer's disease who left their own residences or nursing homes in New Orleans.
“They're realizing this is not temporary anymore. This is permanent. And they're realizing that they need to set up equipment to handle their family member's needs at home or to find a nursing home here,” said Beth Veazey, the organization's executive director.
Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area, for one, is asking the public to donate supplies, such as incontinence products, walkers and blankets, to help these families; it will warehouse them in unoccupied space at its headquarters and distribute them to those in need.
According to Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer, individuals with Alzheimer's disease may become more agitated and confused under these circumstances. “Patience and reassurance go a long way under these tragic conditions,” Hall said.
To cope with this, Hall suggested that families try to steer their loved ones away from broadcasts about the hurricane, implement a structured routine, and redirect them to positive-oriented activities such as reminiscing, listening to music, folding laundry and doing art projects.
“AFA will do whatever we can to help. This is a time for all of us to pull together and strengthen those families affected by this disaster,” Hall said.
For more information and to locate a local AFA member, visit www.alzfdn.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national, nonprofit organization based in New York that focuses on care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. Its services include a hotline, counseling, educational materials, local referrals, and a free caregiver magazine. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org
Contact: Carol Steinberg