Balsam Hill | Balsam Hill Editors

A Charitable Christmas in July: The Alzheimer’s Association

We’re raising funds for various charitable causes this year, and we’re inviting you to donate by liking, commenting or sharing on our social media profiles. From July 1 to 31, we’ll be publishing posts on our social media platforms. A like is worth $0.50, while a comment or a share is worth $1. On July 31, we’ll publish a special post where you can comment with the name of your chosen charity to contribute $1 to the cause involved.

One of our partner charities this year is the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Idaho. Read on and get to know the organization through this interview:

Can you give us an overview about your charity and its advocacy?

  • We provide care and support to those affected. The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to provide care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We are here to help.
  • We accelerate research and create a path for global process. As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Association is committed to accelerating the global progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure.
  • We advocate. The Association is the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy, fighting for critical Alzheimer’s research, prevention and care initiatives at the state and federal level. We diligently work to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.
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    What inspired the charity to be created, and how did it all begin?

    The Alzheimer’s Association was founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and individuals interested in research. Jerome H. Stone was our founding president.

    Today, the Association reaches millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s across the globe through our headquarters in Chicago, a public policy office in Washington, D.C., and a presence in communities across the country.  We are the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

    In what ways does the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Idaho give back to the community?

    We have local chapters across the nation providing services within each community. The Greater Idaho Chapter organizes and facilitates over 25 in-person Caregiver Support Groups, an ongoing Early Stage Support Program and free educational classes on a range of topics throughout central and southern Idaho. Our local staff is available for speaking engagements, health fairs, conferences and other resources throughout our communities.

    Our professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) offers information and advice to more than 300,000 callers each year and provides translation services in more than 200 languages.

    We connect people across the globe through our online message boards, ALZConnected®. Our online community is ready to answer your questions and give you support.

    We provide caregivers and families with comprehensive online resources and information through our Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, which features sections on early-stagemiddle-stage and late-stage caregiving.

    Our free online tool, Alzheimer’s Navigator®, helps those facing the disease to determine their needs and develop an action plan, and our online Community Resource Finder is a comprehensive database of programs and service, housing and care services, and legal experts.

    We house the Alzheimer’s Association Green-Field Library, the nation’s largest library and resource center devoted to increasing knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

    Our safety service, MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.

    What challenges does your organization usually face, and how do you overcome them?

    The Alzheimer’s Association touches millions of lives, but we want to help more people affected by dementia. We strive to raise awareness, increase our volunteer base, reach out to medical providers to help spread the word, and fundraise to assist in the never ending research for prevention, treatment or a cure.  We still speak to too many families who are not aware of our services and feel like they have to battle this disease alone.  Alzheimer’s and dementia can be very isolating to patients and caregivers, and we want to ensure that everyone is aware of our local resources so that they can access the support they need.

    If there is any misconception regarding Alzheimer’s that you would like to correct, what would it be?

    It is common knowledge that Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their ability to remember, but other truths about the disease remain unknown. For instance, many people are unaware that Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease, its symptoms extend further than memory loss and that early diagnosis matters.

    Greater understanding is urgently needed given the dramatic impact of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

    To improve the public’s understanding of the disease and to underscore the need for swift action, the Alzheimer’s Association is highlighting essential truths aimed at curbing common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s. These truths include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is fatal – there are no survivors. From 2000-2013, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths increased 71 percent, while deaths from other major diseases decreased. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 that number is projected to reach as many as 16 million.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging. Alzheimer’s is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s may begin 20 or more years before symptoms appear. Although age is the greatest known risk factor, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
  • Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. Many believe the disease only manifests itself through memory loss, when it may appear through a variety of signs and symptoms. However, since Alzheimer’s affects people in different ways, each person will experience symptoms and progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s differently. Experts from the Alzheimer’s Association have developed 10 key warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease that everyone should learn to recognize in themselves and others.
  • Alzheimer’s risks are higher among women, African-Americans and Hispanics. African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Hispanics are about one and a half times as likely. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
  • Early detection matters. More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, but only about half have been diagnosed. Additionally, less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis. Diagnosis is often delayed due to low public awareness of the early signs of Alzheimer’s and general misperceptions about Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
  • Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, but adopting healthy habits can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and contribute to brain health. Staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet benefits your body and your brain. There is also some evidence people may benefit from staying socially engaged with friends, family and the community.
  • Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country. Alzheimer’s disease remains one of the most critical public health issues in America, costing taxpayers $18.3 million each hour. The total national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $236 billion a year, of which $160 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone. As the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s grows, the total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to increase to more than one trillion in 2050.
  • Caregiving can become anyone’s reality. According to the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, it is estimated that 250,000 children and young adults between ages eight and 18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. In addition, 23 percent of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for underage children.
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    If you could give any advice to families that are dealing with Alzheimer’s, what would it be?

    You are not alone. Often a feeling of being the only family dealing with this disease can overwhelm and frighten us. Important things to note are –

  • Get support: Caregiver Support Groups, online message boards, Alzheimer’s Association presentations, HelpLine.
  • Plan for the future: Get legal, medical, and safety issues in order while the person with the diagnosis can still actively participate.
  • Reach out for day to day help. Create a network of family, friends, volunteers and professionals to help you with the challenges of caregiving.
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    Any upcoming opportunities for people to get involved with (walk) to show their support?

    Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

    How to Participate in 3 Easy Steps:

    Find a Walk in your community. There are three in southern Idaho: Treasure Valley, Magic Valley and Eastern Idaho.

    Register as a team captain, team member, or individual.

    Start fundraising and raising awareness.

    A Charitable Christmas in July fulfils Balsam Hill’s fourth consecutive year conducting philanthropic activities during the mid-year festivities. It is joined by the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Idaho, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Ronald McDonald House and Point Hope as charity partners.

    About the Author
    On the Balsam Hill blog, we hope to provide our readers with inspirational decorating ideas the entire family will love. Beautifully appoint your home for every holiday with our decorating tips and tricks.