FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 8, 2010
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s National Commemorative Candle Lighting to Honor Individuals Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease
NEW YORK, NY —When Lynn Pearson of Titusville, FL lights a candle to honor her sister on November 14, she’ll be joining thousands of families across the nation whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease—families who are coming together in spirit to take part in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) National Commemorative Candle Lighting.
AFA sponsors the annual event, now in its eighth year, as part of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Community groups and individuals will host hundreds of inspirational ceremonies around the country on that day. To find a site, visit www.candlelighting.org or call 866-232-8484.
For Pearson, the candle lighting is both a way to pay tribute to her sister, Laine Myers, who was only 48 when she passed away as a result of Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, and to bring the community together. Pearson will host the local ceremony at The Place at Merritt Island Assisted Living in Merritt Island, FL to deliver what she hopes will be a powerful message to families affected by Alzheimer’s disease: You are not alone.
“My hope is to fill the acreage in front of the building with people lighting candles, and that the vision of all those people standing together will provide a memory,” said Pearson, who is the facility’s director of community relations.
Pearson’s goal is shared by others who are organizing the local candle lighting ceremonies, said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer.
“These ceremonies provide a way for people touched by the disease to find comfort in togetherness. They show individuals with the disease, their caregivers and their families that they have the support of their communities,” he said.
Also in its efforts to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and year-round, AFA will sponsor National Memory Screening Day on November 16 and its inaugural “Together for Care” telethon on December 4. For more information about these events, visit www.alzfdn.org.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that destroys memory and other intellectual abilities, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Currently, it affects as many as 5.1 million Americans, and the incidence is expected to rise in line with the nation’s aging population. Advanced age is the greatest risk factor, although some people are diagnosed with the disease under age 65.
The candle lighting ceremonies across the country will feature a candle lighting and a reading of the names of local residents who had or have Alzheimer’s disease. Some communities will add their own touches, such as poetry readings or choir music, and some houses of worship will incorporate ceremonies into their regular weekend prayer services.
The Merritt Island ceremony exemplifies the effort organizers like Pearson put into coordinating their local events. Pearson has reached out to organizations and leaders throughout her community to provide resources and information at the ceremony. Rosemary Laird, M.D., director of the Health First Aging Institute in Rockledge, FL, will be the keynote speaker; Ann Taylor Owen, a chaplain with Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice, will conduct the ceremony; and local musicians will perform “Where You’ve Been,” a heartrending song by country music star Kathy Mattea, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a non-profit organization that unites more than 1,400 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free helpline, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Contact: Carol Steinberg