FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 1, 2006
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Marks National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
NEW YORK, NY—The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is marking National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month this November with three major national initiatives aimed at raising awareness of this devastating brain disorder from educational and emotional vantage points.
National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month is especially meaningful this November given that 2006 denotes the 100 th anniversary of the discovery of Alzheimer's disease. In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician detected the disease's characteristic plaques and tangles during an autopsy of a woman's brain.
Today, an estimated five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease; the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century, in large part due to aging baby boomers.
AFA will mark the start of this commemorative month by unveiling the AFA Quilt to Remember, the nation's first dementia-related quilt that is grand in scale and that will continually grow with ongoing contributions. Patterned after the AIDS Memorial Quilt, it consists of massive panels that creatively memorialize or honor individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
The AFA Quilt to Remember will be showcased in Central Park in New York City on November 3 and 4, with nearly 100 panels on display. Then, the quilt will tour the country for years to come, including stops in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities in 2007.
“The AFA Quilt to Remember is a powerful work of art that unleashes a huge outpouring of emotion by families across the country. The panels ‘speak' for those who can no longer speak for themselves. They both symbolize loss and celebrate life,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.
Also on an inspirational front, AFA is sponsoring its annual National Commemorative Candle Lighting on November 9. Alzheimer's organizations, long-term care facilities and other community groups across the United States will be hosting candle lighting ceremonies and lighting “candles of care” to remember those who have passed or are living with the disease, and to honor their caregivers.
Then, on November 14, hundreds of sites from coast to coast will offer free confidential memory screenings as part of AFA's fourth annual National Memory Screening Day. Participating agencies will provide face-to-face screenings and information about Alzheimer's disease, successful aging and local resources.
The screening, which consists of a series of questions and tasks, could indicate whether someone should follow up with a complete medical exam. It is not used to diagnose any illness and does not replace consultation with a qualified professional, the AFA said.
The AFA suggests that anyone concerned about changes in memory or other intellectual functions should get screened. Warning signs include forgetfulness about names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion, and erratic mood swings.
With these national initiatives, Hall said, “Our goal is to wake America's consciousness about Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and to let people know that real lives are touched by this heartbreaking disease every day. We need to step up the nation's focus on education and care, while we await a cure.”
For information about these initiatives, visit www.alzfdn.org or call toll-free 866-AFA-8484.
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. Its services include a toll-free helpline, counseling by licensed social workers, bilingual educational materials and a free magazine for caregivers. For more information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .
Contact: Carol Steinberg