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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | August 15, 2008

Hector Elizondo, Patricia Garamendi to Headline Alzheimer’s Foundation National Conference
Display of Powerful Dementia-Related ‘Quilt to Remember’ Follows

NEW YORK, NY— Award-winning actor Hector Elizondo and California’s Second Lady Patricia Garamendi will each share the heartache of watching their mothers struggle with Alzheimer’s disease when they address the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) 3 rd National Concepts in Care Conference in San Francisco on September 18.

The life lessons learned from their experiences—largely, to not face Alzheimer’s disease alone—sum up the goal of the conference. In addition to the personal insight offered by these high-profile caregivers and several other California families, top experts will provide medical updates and hands-on strategies to address behavioral, communication and other daily challenges when caring for individuals with this brain disorder.

The free educational conference is geared toward family caregivers and healthcare professionals. It will be held at The Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and includes breakfast and lunch, an exhibit hall and free respite care to facilitate attendance by family caregivers. Continuing education units are pending for nurses, social workers and activity therapists.

Piggybacking off of the conference, AFA will display its powerful Quilt to Remember, the nation’s first grand-scale quilt that pays tribute to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, at nearby Union Square, Geary and Stockton Streets, on September 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on September 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tying the two events together, Elizondo will present a heartfelt quilt panel crafted in memory of his mother, Carmen Reyes Elizondo, during the conference. The panel will be showcased at the park along with the more than 100 panels in the collection.

Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer, said the two events complement each other.

“On one hand, education empowers caregivers and eases some of the practical burden of the disease. On the other hand, the AFA Quilt to Remember enables families to creatively express their feelings about their loved ones and alleviate some of the emotional toll,” Hall said. “Together, they serve to raise awareness of the all-encompassing nature of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The New York-born Elizondo, who has appeared in several critically-acclaimed TV series, including his current role in MONK and more than 80 movies, will lead off the conference with the feature presentation, “My Family’s Experience and the Value of Support.”

“Back when my family faced this disease, information and support were almost non-existent. While my family had nowhere to turn, it’s important for today’s caregivers to recognize that medical treatment, educational information, resources and support organizations are available to help. I want other families to understand how important it is not to go it alone,” Elizondo said.

Garamendi, currently serving as assistant general manager of the California Exposition and State Fair, and wife of California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, will deliver the keynote presentation, “Mama, the Grandest Lady,” during lunch.

“While we are learning more and more about Alzheimer’s disease every day, like so many other families, I hope for more,” she said. “But in the meantime, I do what I can to foster improved quality of life for my mom and others with this illness.”

Other speakers include Pierre Tariot, M.D., director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, who will report on the latest trends in diagnosis and treatment; and, among those discussing communication strategies, Kristine Williams, an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing, will present her ground-breaking research about the negative impact of so-called Elderspeak on older adults.

For more information about these events and to register for the conference, call 866-AFA-8484.

Currently, an estimated five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. In California, it is estimated that nearly half a million people aged 65 and older will have the brain disorder by 2010. Age is the greatest risk factor for the disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and unites more than 950 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, a free magazine for caregivers, educational conferences and training for healthcare professionals. For more information, visit www.alzfdn.org or call 866-AFA-8484.

Note: Photos of Hector Elizondo and Patricia Garamendi available upon request. We’re happy to arrange interviews.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

Alzheimer's Foundation of America  866.232.8484

www.alzfdn.org