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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 28, 2006

Dementia Caregivers Can Connect Weekly via Phone Support Network

NEW YORK, NY—After a long day of caregiving, Shirley Rappazini tucked her husband, Joe, into bed at 7 pm. She changed into her pajamas, settled back on the couch, and propped a pillow under her head. All comfy, she checked the time and reached for the phone.

Rappazini, 78, had been looking forward to this night all week—the night when she would connect via a telephone support network with other caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses. It's so important to her that she even marks up her copy of TV Guide to note the telephone session under Thursday night “programming.”

Called Care Connection, the free, interactive service is specifically geared for caregivers of those with dementia, and is a blend of coaching, presentations by experts and lots of sharing. The network is a strategic alliance between the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) and Ask Dr. Jamie; Jamie Rotnofsky, a psychologist and professional life coach, hosts the teleconferences and provides coaching.

Now, caregivers can join together twice as often as before. Beginning with the March 2 session, Care Connection will be held live each Thursday night at 9 pm Eastern Time. Caregivers can call in toll-free at 877-AFA-2992; the guest identification number is 271004#.

The new format marks the one-year anniversary of Care Connection and fills a growing need for alternate types of support services, especially for caregivers whose round-the-clock responsibilities prevent them from attending a support group or socializing in any way.

“Care Connection offers a lifeline for caregivers. It means so much to hear the voice of someone else walking in similar shoes,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.

Rappazini, whose husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1992, finds it increasingly difficult to leave the house. She has been a regular on Care Connection since it started.

“To have it every week is even better,” she said. “It allows me to vent with people who understand. You can't do that with just anybody.”

While Rappazini calls in from the comfort of her condominium in Fort Walton Beach, FL, up to 150 other caregivers simultaneously are on the line—from their decks in San Diego to their kitchen tables in Brooklyn. Family caregivers and healthcare professionals join in.

The two organizations opted for a telephone support network versus an Internet chat room, in part to accommodate caregivers who are not computer savvy.

But Rotnofsky noted that this format has other advantages. “There's a warmth and a comfort level. Our participants play off each other in real time, and they learn from each other and the experts on the call.”

Each session addresses medical, social, emotional and practical issues with a dementia specific slant. On March 2, Patricia Mathes Cane, director of Capacitar, a multicultural wellness education project, will present a holistic approach to “caring for ourselves while we care for our world.” Future topics include emergency preparedness, the sandwich generation, workplace issues, supporting teens, and end-of-life care. For details, visit .

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national 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 licensed social workers, educational materials, training for healthcare professionals, and a free caregiver magazine. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit .

Ask Dr Jamie is a professional coaching and psychotherapy service that assists individuals and organizations in focusing on doing things differently to achieve real results. Its services include professional education, one-on-one coaching, tele-classes and psychotherapy. For more information, call toll-free 800-927-7930 or visit .

Corporate sponsors of the teleconference are Fascomm and Verizon.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

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