Alzheimer's Foundation of America
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 7, 2005

Alzheimer's Foundation of America to Host National Commemorative Candle Lighting
Hundreds of Ceremonies to Honor Courageous Families Touched by Alzheimer's Disease

NEW YORK, NY—Jane Marx never knew what it meant to be a “nurturer” until she was reluctantly called into action. An energetic tour guide in New York City who never had children, Marx now bathes, dresses and gets involved in all other aspects of caring for her 87-year-old mother who is in the late stage of Alzheimer's disease. She has one word to sum up the practical and emotional reality of her role: complex.

“Once you acknowledge the complexity of the responsibility and that you are a human being with emotions and that this is your mother, you'll respond in a human way. You'll have good days and bad days,” she said.

But overall, “Taking care of my mother has been the most ennobling experience I have ever had. I never understood what it meant to give unconditional love to someone. Now I do, and as a result I've loved myself more,” noted the 61-year-old Marx.

Marx will be among countless caregivers who speak from the heart on November 10 as families touched by Alzheimer's disease and other supporters of the cause gather at candle lighting ceremonies across the U.S. as part of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's National Commemorative Candle Lighting.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) sponsors the event each November in recognition of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. This year, nearly 200 organizations, such as grassroots Alzheimer's agencies and long-term care facilities, in 37 states are holding ceremonies.

Participants will light “candles of care” to remember those who died as a result of Alzheimer's disease or a related illness, and to support the increasing number of families currently affected by the brain disorder. The event is also designed to raise awareness of dementia, to provide educational materials and to highlight the availability of community resources.

For more information about National Commemorative Candle Lighting and to locate a candle lighting site, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.candlelighting.org .

“These inspirational ceremonies give Americans the opportunity to stand together in spirit and solidarity on the same day. Most importantly, we want families to know that they are not alone. We want them to walk away with a message of hope,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.

Hall noted that the National Candle Lighting is especially significant this year since it falls the day before Veterans' Day.

“Many of the aging Americans with Alzheimer's disease fought for our country. They, as well as non-veterans, deserve the utmost dignity and the best in care as they now struggle with the challenges of this horrific disease,” he said.

AFA itself will hold the lead candle lighting ceremony at 6 pm at The Interchurch Center, located at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City. Like most of the ceremonies held across the nation, this interfaith ceremony will feature inspirational readings, presentations by caregivers, candle lighting and the reciting of names in memory and recognition. Marx will speak at AFA's ceremony.

Also to commemorate National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, AFA is sponsoring National Memory Screening Day on November 15. More than 700 sites will be providing free, confidential memory screenings as a first step toward early detection.

The incurable brain disorder, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, currently affects an estimated five million Americans, including one in ten aged 65 and older. The incidence is projected to triple by mid-century, especially with aging baby boomers.

AFA is a New York-based national nonprofit organization that focuses on care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. It unites hundreds of member organizations that provide hands-on support services, and its services include a toll-free hotline, educational materials and a free caregiver magazine. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484