Press Releases

Press Releases

For media inquiries, contact Carol Steinberg, Executive Vice President,
Alzheimer's Foundation of America 866.AFA.8484 | media@alzfdn.org

2009 Press Releases

 

November 4 , 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Releases Top Flu Facts for Caregivers of People with Dementia in Light of Additional Care Issues, Complications


NEW YORK , NY —With the flu continuing to spread nationwide, imagine adding the virus into the mix when someone is already coping with a chronic illness like Alzheimer’s disease. In an effort to help families manage this situation, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today released tips for caregivers of individuals with dementia who believe they or the people they are caring for have the flu.

The strategies take into consideration a person’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, which can pose additional care issues. AFA posted its top 20 flu facts on the caregiving section of its Web site, www.alzfdn.org.

“Families should minimize possible risk of exposure and prepare for the possibility that their loved ones could contract the virus,” said Richard E. Powers, M.D., chairman of AFA’s Medical Advisory Board and chief of the Bureau of Geriatric Psychiatry, Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

“Vigilance and early aggressive treatment for the flu are the best plan of action. Good basic home nursing by the family may reduce the adverse impact,” he said.

While people 65 and older—the age group most affected by Alzheimer’s disease—are the least likely to be infected with 2009 H1N1 flu, those who do become infected are at greater risk of having serious complications from their illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .

Of utmost importance, Powers, who authored the fact sheet, said individuals need to think about both types of flu—seasonal and H1N1.

“Families should not become so fixated on the H1N1 that they ignore the seasonal flu.  The seasonal flu can be equally dangerous in some circumstances if the person is not vaccinated,” he advised.

Among the strategies, caregivers should:

In addition, Powers offered this advice to caregivers: “Maintain the same devotion and sense of humor towards this challenge like every other challenge in caring for a person with dementia.”

Caregivers also need to be prepared for other disruptions that may arise—even if they or their loved ones do not get sick themselves. For example, adult day programs or in-home services could be disrupted if professional caregivers get the flu.

Noted Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer: “Family caregivers would be well-served if they have back-up support systems to deal with the practical and emotional ramifications of situations that arise from the flu, as well as other issues that can come up at any time.”

AFA’s social services team is available to discuss behavioral challenges or other situations and to make referrals to local and national resources; for information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484.

According to the CDC’s latest report, 48 states currently are reporting widespread influenza activity, with the 2009 HINI influenza accounting for almost all of the viruses identified so far. Its Web site, www.cdc.gov, lists specific at-risk groups given priority for the vaccine and the availability of the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

It is estimated that as many as 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions. With age the greatest known risk factor, the incidence of the disease doubles every five years between 65 and 95.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of more than 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and their families. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine and professional training. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

CONTACT:  CAROL STEINBERG

866-AFA-8484   media@alzfdn.org

October 28, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Hold National Memory Screening Day During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Actor Hector Elizondo Urges Americans to Get Screened

NEW YORK, NY—As research continues to mount about the effectiveness of memory screenings and the benefits of early detection of memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) will hold its 7th annual National Memory Screening Day on November 17.

The event coincides with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, observed during November.

More than 2,000 sites across the country will offer free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials about memory concerns, successful aging and local resources. The face-to-face screening, conducted by a qualified healthcare professional, takes about five minutes to administer and consists of a series of questions and/or tasks.

Sites include doctor’s offices, senior centers and assisted living facilities, as well as 1,030 Kmart Pharmacy locations nationwide as part of the chain’s GoldK Day.

To locate a screening site, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org or call 866-AFA-8484.

AFA believes memory screenings are appropriate for individuals concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; who believe they are at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer's disease or a related illness; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.

“We must break through the enormous stigma and denial about memory problems that still exist today,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s a message that the nation as a whole and aging baby boomers especially need to heed.”

Actor Hector Elizondo, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease and who is serving as AFA’s honorary celebrity chairman, is also urging Americans to get screened.

“If you have memory concerns, burying your head in the sand doesn’t help you or your family,” Elizondo said. “Screenings are a great starting point to find out what what’s really going on and can lead to the care you might need—and the support your family might need.”

During National Memory Screening Day, screeners emphasize that the test results do not represent a diagnosis and encourage individuals with below-normal scores as well as those who still have concerns to pursue a full medical exam.

Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other member problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, and confusion over daily routines.

More than 20 professional and trade groups have signed on as supporters of National Memory Screening Day this year, including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of State Units on Aging and the National Council on Aging.

In a report entitled “Memory Matters” released last December, AFA noted that current research supports screening as a “safe, cost-efficient intervention that can reassure the healthy individual, promote successful aging and, when indicated, direct individuals to appropriate clinical resources.”

Sponsors of the 2009 event are Forest Pharmaceuticals, as presenting sponsor; Novartis, silver sponsor; Eisai Inc., Pfizer Inc and Accera, remembrance sponsors; Elan Wyeth, empowerment sponsor; and CogniFit, community sites sponsor.

It is estimated that as many as 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions. With age the greatest known risk factor, the incidence of the disease doubles every five years between 65 and 95.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of more than 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and their families. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine and professional training. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

CONTACT:  CAROL STEINBERG

866-AFA-8484   media@alzfdn.org

September 17, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Applauds Inclusion of Cognitive Screening for Medicare Beneficiaries in Senate Finance Committee Health Reform Proposal

NEW YORK, NY—The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today applauded Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), who spearheaded the provision, for including cognitive impairment screening for Medicare beneficiaries in Baucus’ healthcare reform proposal, “America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009.” 

AFA had pressed for cognitive screening in light of the escalating incidence of Alzheimer’s disease among aging Americans and mounting evidence that early diagnosis of memory problems is critical to appropriate treatment, behavioral interventions and support services. Early detection of memory problems is one of AFA’s major national initiatives, highlighted by its annual National Memory Screening Day held each November.

“We applaud and thank Senator Carper and Chairman Baucus for their leadership in recognizing the value of cognitive screening and its potential impact on quality of life for older Americans,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “The inclusion of cognitive screenings in Medicare wellness visits will help initiate long overdue and vital discussions about brain health between consumers and healthcare professionals.”

Richard E. Powers, M.D., chairman of AFA’s Medical Advisory Board, said it is noteworthy that the provision for the cognitive screenings, as well as the overall comprehensive health assessment, is framed in the context of disease prevention.

“Being proactive about risk factors and about memory concerns is the only way to attack this public health crisis,” he said. “This is a major step forward toward elevating this issue to the stature deserved by all Americans.”

Baucus’ healthcare proposal, released yesterday as a “Chairman’s Mark,” or recommendation by a committee chair, is scheduled for markup by the Senate Finance Committee on September 22.

The provision for cognitive screening is included in a section on promoting disease prevention and wellness that would give Medicare beneficiaries access to a comprehensive health risk assessment to identify chronic diseases, modifiable risk factors, and emergency or urgent health needs. As part of the annual wellness visit, the proposal states that “optional elements, if appropriate, could include a cognitive impairment screening and administration of or referral for appropriate Medicare-covered immunizations and screening tests, among others.”

All enrolled beneficiaries would be eligible for the wellness visit once every year beginning in 2011, and no co-payment or deductible would apply. Within six months of completing the assessment, Medicare would pay for a visit to a primary care provider to create a personalized prevention plan.

In a report, “Memory Matters,” released last December, AFA underscored the value of memory screenings, noting that current research supports screening as a “safe, cost-efficient intervention that can reassure the healthy individual, promote successful aging and, when indicated, direct individuals to appropriate clinical resources.”

At the time, Hall said the report serves as a “wake up call” to the public and medical professionals, as well as to policymakers.

The proposed inclusion of cognitive screening in the Medicare wellness visit is unfolding as AFA gears up for its National Memory Screening Day on November 17, an annual event that offers free, confidential memory screenings in local communities. Qualified healthcare professionals are expected to administer the non-invasive screenings to tens of thousands of Americans as well as distribute educational materials to countless others at more than 2,000 sites in local communities nationwide.

AFA encourages individuals who are concerned about memory loss, are experiencing warning signs or have a family history of dementia, or want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons to take advantage of the screenings, which are conducted face-to-face and consist of a series of questions and tasks. The  results do not represent a diagnosis, but individuals with below-normal scores or who still have concerns are strongly encouraged to follow up for a full medical examination. For more information, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

In previous years, surveys of participants in National Memory Screening Day showed that the majority of individuals with memory concerns had not discussed the issue with their physicians despite recent visits.

According to the National Institute on Aging, as many as 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes loss of memory and other intellectual functions. With age the greatest known risk factor, the incidence of the disease doubles every five years between 65 and 95.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and their families, and unites 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line with counseling by licensed social workers, a free caregiver magazine, a National Memory Screening Day initiative and the AFA Quilt to Remember.  For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

CONTACT:  CAROL STEINBERG

866-AFA-8484   media@alzfdn.org

May 6, 2009

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Lays Out Strategies for Healthy Aging
New Web Site Focuses on Being Proactive, Reducing Risks for Dementia.

NEW YORK, NY — Look at your calendar from the past week: Have you gone for a brisk walk, eaten dark leafy vegetables or toured a museum with a friend?

With growing evidence that these are the types of lifestyle choices that can pay off now and in the future, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has introduced a new interactive Web site — www.alzprevention.org — that focuses on being proactive about your mental and physical health. It highlights strategies that help promote healthy aging and may reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. | read more |