No Greater Love

When Amanda was a year old, her mother married a man that Amanda says “my life would have taken a very different trajectory if it was not for him”.

When Amanda was growing up in Macon, her father was a successful attorney while her mother worked at Trust Company Bank. Her parents were also very involved with the Central Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Amanda’s father was Board President while Amanda was a volunteer in the adult day care center. Amanda’s grandmother was diagnosed in early 50’s and her family felt this was a great way to give back to the community while honoring a family member. “My dad gave everything to his family. There is no greater love than that and he never expected anything in return”.

In 2014, things started to change with Amanda’s father when they started to notice some changes, and how withdrawn he had become. “My dad was a man of few words anyway, but we knew something was not right”. At the age of 76, Amanda’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“My mom was the primary caregiver and was able to care for him at home. Although my siblings were able to help, my mother juggled caring for my father and continued to work at her school. My father never wanted to be without my mother”.

While Amanda lived in Savannah, she was able to visit with her father through FaceTime. “I’d ask him ‘who is your favorite daughter’ and he would always laugh. It became the running joke that I was his “favorite daughter”, but he didn’t have favorites.

On June 28, 2020, Amanda’s dad passed away at home peacefully while her family surrounded him. “I remember holding my Dad’s hand the night before he passed, and asked him to squeeze it if he could hear me? He did and then I asked for him to squeeze twice, and he squeezed my hand twice. I promised him that I would take care of Mom no matter what”.

This has been a very rough few months”, added Amanda. “Watching a brilliant attorney decline was a real struggle and it’s hard to think about what this did to our family”.

On Saturday, September 26, along with hundreds of other Savannah residents, Amanda’s family will come together to participate in the Savannah Walk to End Alzheimer’s. They are celebrating Amanda’s father’s legacy and remember the man they cherished so dearly. The family named their team “No Greater Love”, which is from John 15:13   – ‘Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends”.

“We want to help find a cure that robbed my Dad’s mind – how scary is it to lose something that served so many so well and now it’s robbing you”.

To learn more about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit georgiawalk.org

Georgia Representative Sharon Cooper receives Legislator of the Year Award from the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter.

By Cai Yoke, Advocacy Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter

The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter is thrilled to announce that the 2020 Legislator of the Year has been awarded to Representative Sharon Cooper of the 43rd district, for her work on HB 987 and her tireless efforts to improve the standards of care in Georgia’s assisted living facilities and memory care units. 

For the past few years, advocates and leaders in the aging community have identified the critical need for addressing the standards of care in Georgia’s senior care industry. This fight to secure senior care reform garnered significant momentum in the fall of 2019, when an investigative series authored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered patterns of neglect and abuse in assisted living facilities and memory care centers throughout the state. 

In seeing these troubling reports, Rep. Sharon Cooper immediately rolled up her sleeves and went to work, collaborating with constituents, advocates, aging organizations, and care providers themselves to imagine and create a bill that would adequately address and prevent the problems many constituents were enduring in these facilities. 

Studying legislation on Senior Care – Representative Cooper with Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force Directors Kim Sherk and Joe Gavalis, and Alzheimer’s Association Government Affairs Director MaryLea Boatwright Quinn.

That bill would become HB 987, and as its primary co-sponsor, Rep. Cooper would prove to be absolutely instrumental in addressing and resolving the many obstacles we encountered as the bill made its way through the state legislature, including the abrupt adjournment of the legislative session due to COVID-19. 

Due to Rep. Cooper persistence and tenacity and the efforts of hundreds of advocates throughout the state, including the 90 advocates who came to the Capitol in early March  to urge their Senators to pass the bill, HB 987 was signed into law in June and will take effect July 1, 2021. In its passage, HB 987 establishes a framework for memory care in Georgia and establishes important training, staffing, and regulations that will radically improve the quality of care in these settings. 

From left to right – Representative John LaHood, Joe Hood, Department of Community Health, Representative Sharon Cooper and Governor Brian Kemp – signing HB987 into law

After receiving the Legislator of the Year Award, Rep. Sharon Cooper thanked advocates for all their work to ensure this bill’s success:

“Thank you for this special recognition and thank you to all the advocates who came to the Capitol and talked to the Representatives and Senators – hearing it from people who are dealing with Alzheimer’s makes all the difference in the world. HB987 was one of the hardest bills I have ever worked on, yet so rewarding.”

Despite this landmark victory, we know we still have much to accomplish to ensure that Georgians affected by dementia receive the care and support services they need. We are so proud and so excited to move forward in this fight with champions like Representative Sharon Cooper, and with our incredible and dedicated advocates!

From left to right: Peggy Lavender, Alzheimer’s advocate and caregiver, Rep. Cooper, Linda Davidson, Executive Director, Georgia Chapter and Dan Britt, Sr. Development Director, Georgia Chapter

Alzheimer’s Association – Ask the Expert Series

New interactive series offers conversations between experts and dementia caregivers 

Join us as the Alzheimer’s Association across Georgia and the Carolinas brings together area health care experts and dementia caregivers. Each Ask the Expert series will take place on Facebook Live and allow opportunity for participants to ask questions during the live event. Each event will have a different topic. 

ASK THE EXPERT – COGNITIVE ASSESSMENTS: PART 1

Friday, September 11 FROM 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

As we age, it’s important for healthcare providers to have a baseline for our complete wellness, including brain health. Cognitive assessments help providers measure your brain health and track changes. If you’re having concerns about your memory and questioning how to talk about it with your provider, join us for an interactive series on September 11 with Dr. Monica Parker as she addresses cognitive assessments and the Annual Medicare Wellness Visit. 

Featured Expert

Monica Parker, MD

Emory University School of Medicine

Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

How to participate in this event

To join this event live, mark your calendar and go to the Association’s Georgia Chapter Facebook pages at 2 PM on Friday, September 11.

No RSVP is required for this event.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR WALK TO END ALZHEIMER’S PEP RALLIES ACROSS GEORGIA

Join us online for our Walk to End Alzheimer’s Pep Rallies taking place across Georgia. The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s disease. While this year’s event will not be a large, in-person gathering, we are still walking on every street, path and trail.

Get all the details you need for Walk day by attending our online Pep Rally for your local Walk. You’ll also hear inspiring stories from others walking in the community and learn about helpful tools and resources to boost your fundraising.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS TO JOIN IN THE FUN ON SCREEN!

Attend your PEP RALLY on the day of the event through the links below:

Albany, GA 8/25/20 at 12:00 PM
Athens, GA9/16/20 at 5:30 PM
Atlanta, GA8/25/20 at 12:00 PM
Bainbridge, GA9/15/20 at 12:00 PM
Canton, GA 9/22/20 at 12:00 PM
Carrollton, GA9/17/20 at 5:30 PM
Columbus, GA 8/20/20 at 12:00 PM
Dalton, GA 8/26/20 at 12:00 PM
Duluth, GA9/29/20 at 5:30 PM
Evans, GA –  9/29/20 at 5:30 PM
Gainesville, GA9/1/20 at 5:30 PM
Golden Isles, GA –  9/16/20 at 6:00 PM
Henry Co., GAWATCH NOW
LaGrange, GAWATCH NOW
Macon, GA9/1/20 at 12:00 PM
Peachtree City, GA9/4/20 at 6:00 PM
Rome, GA10/7/20 at 12:00 PM
Savannah, GA8/26/20 at 6:00 PM
Statesboro, GA9/3/20 at 5:30 PM
Tifton, GA9/1/20 at 12:00 PM
Valdosta, GA9/29/20 at 12:00 PM

The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s. This year, Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is everywhere — on every sidewalk, track and trail. Your health and safety are our top priorities. We won’t have a large in-person gathering — instead, we invite you to walk in small teams of friends and family while others in your community do the same. Because we are all still walking and fundraising for the same thing: a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

When you participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, you’re part of a community that cares — and that community, which starts in your backyard and stretches across the country, has never needed us more. With the dollars we raise, the Alzheimer’s Association® can provide care and support during these uncertain times while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.

There are 21 walk taking place across Georgia. Register for one today at georgiawalk.org and join the movement.

Cynthia Widner Wall to named Chair, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter Board of Directors.

The Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association today announced that Cynthia Widner Wall will be the newest board chair of the organization. Board members work to promote the organization and its many events to raise funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs.

Cynthia Widner Wall or Cindy, is committed to her community and serves several not for profit organizations.  Her involvement in organizations and causes related to Health and Welfare, Art and Theatre, Education, Diversity and Inclusion, and Business allow her a kinship for the people, needs and interests of our community.  Including the Alzheimer’s Association, she serves on the boards of Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Woodruff Art Center’s Alliance Theatre and Shepherd Center Foundation.

“Alzheimer’s is an individual and unique journey”, added Cindy.  “But not a journey that has to be traveled alone.  The Alzheimer’s Association supported and helped me on my journey with my Daddy.”

Cindy’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association became personal in 2009 when her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and even more direct when he came to live with Cindy and her husband James in 2013.  In 2014, she was a Celebrity Dancer for the Alzheimer’s Association Dancing Stars Atlanta.  Then in 2015, as Chair of Dancing Stars, she significantly set the bar higher in fundraising to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. She joined the Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Board in 2016.

“The journey of Alzheimer’s is unique to the one suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregiver and is a journey no one should face alone”, says Cindy.  “When Daddy was with me, I was frequently asked how I could be helped in caring for my father. My response was consistent in that I did not know because I was solely focused on my Daddy’s needs”.  Cindy also stated that she knows she was blessed to have a loving husband, caring daughters, and supportive caregivers to ensure her father was well taken care off.  “As a caregiver, I appreciate the Alzheimer’s Association for the focus on research for a cure, the resources and information made available and the numerous friends she finds within the group.

Cindy has more than 43 years’ experience in the financial services industry, including 24 years in investments management and 15 years assisting affluent clientele.  Cindy retired from Wachovia Securities after 25 years having started with First National Bank of Atlanta, was Wealth Director for BB&T Wealth Management for 6 years, and Wealth Director for PNC Wealth Management for 7 years.  Her career has focused on the client experience and providing creative solutions to meet her clients financial and legacy planning.  She has most recently taken time to consult with one of her nonprofit interest in the early stage of a capital campaign.

“We simply cannot achieve our goals without volunteers like Cindy”, added Linda Davidson, Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter Executive Director. “Cindy brings not only her philanthropic spirit to the Association but remarkable business skills to our board of directors”, she added.

Cindy has been married to Savannahian, James Wall for 42 years.  They have two daughters, Amanda and Catherine, and enjoy having them live nearby.  While Savannah will always be a special part of their lives, Atlanta has been home for 25 years. 

The Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association elected new board members including Atlanta residents Spencer Graves, Debbie Levin, Bruce Swain and Dr. Frank Jones. From Macon area, Arthena Caston and John Rowland and from Columbus, Dr. Jonathan Liss.  

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 16 million family members and friends provide care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In Georgia alone, there are more than 150,000 people living with the disease and 540,000 caregivers.

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit alz.org/Georgia or call 1-800-272-3900. 

Facts and Figures: (http://www.alz.org/facts/)

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth-leading cause of death in Georgia.
  • More than five million Americans are living with the disease, including 150,000 Georgia residents — a number estimated to grow to as many as 190,000 by year 2025.
  • More than 16 million family and friends, including 540,000 in Georgia, provide unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States.
  • In 2019, friends and family of those with Alzheimer’s in Georgia provided an estimated 615 million hours of unpaid care, a contribution valued more than $8 billion.

Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®. For more information, visit alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900. Connect on Facebook and Twitter.