The 2020 Summer Olympics are getting ready to start later this month in Tokyo, but now is your chance to GO FOR GOLD. Register for one the Walk to End Alzheimer’s events taking place across Georgia this fall.With three easy actions as a Walk Team captain, you can earn your gold medal.
Bronze medal = Register to start a Walk team
Silver medal = Add 2 other people to your team
Gold medal = Add $50 or more to your team fundraising total
All gold medal team captains will be awarded a Walk to End Alzheimer’s Mountain Marble silicone pint glass–perhaps like the athletes used on Mount Olympus! (They had silicone back then, right? 😉)
To help you reach gold, here’s some tools to check out:
The Alzheimer’s Association hosts 20 walks across Georgia. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association® mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.
We’re moving forward with plans to host Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in person this fall. The health and safety of our participants, volunteers and staff remain our top priorities as we make decisions about event details in your community, and we’ll continue to offer options to participate online and in your neighborhood.
By Mary Caldwell, Helpline and Early Stage Program Manager, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter
Imagine that you are a newly retired, or soon to be retired adult, with big plans for how you intend to spend your golden years traveling, perhaps with a partner, enjoying visits with family, taking time finally to truly enjoy the life you have built. Now, imagine receiving a diagnosis of dementia at this time and being told that you will experience a cognitive decline over an unknown period of time, to an unknown extent, with symptoms that are life altering and also unknown at this time. Suddenly, those long-awaited days of retirement become long waits for Neurology appointments. It seems as if the ground has shifted and the entire world changes-everything becomes about the diagnosis.
Not a scenario anyone wants to imagine, right? Pretty much everyone’s worst nightmare? Why? Well, for one thing-it is a scary diagnosis. Scary to bear, scary to hear, scary to process, and foreign as all get out to most people. This is also why people living with dementia and their care partners become at risk for isolation very early in a diagnosis.
In professional circles, a common sentiment to hear years ago was that if a person could pronounce Alzheimer’s, they were an expert. To this day, there remains a severe lack of knowledge as well as pervasive negative stigma about dementia. Thankfully, we have experienced some progress in the past decade. However, Alzheimer’s is still a foreign and terrifying concept to most people. So those experiencing this journey are often left to deal with it in relative isolation.
The Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association seeks to provide meaningful interventions to offset this isolation by offering a comprehensive state-wide program for those with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment, Early-Stage Alzheimer’s, or other related dementias. Of the twenty or more virtual programs offered each month, the most popular is always the Carpe Diem Luncheon that takes place at various restaurants in the Metro-Atlanta area on the third Wednesday of the month. We are so happy to be able to gather again in person for this event now that COVID restrictions are lifted!
Every culture has its own holidays and celebrations that mark the calendar and separate the sacred from the profane. Almost all of these celebrations, though different in origin, include a meal shared with others- a coming together around the table to break bread and share time with others. This time-honored tradition of humans gathering to break bread provides sustenance for body and soul. Our Carpe Diem, Early-Stage Luncheon offers exactly that for its members.
It is difficult to put into words the buoyant feeling of joy and connection we share at the Carpe Diem table. Do not expect a staid, proper, quiet group of retirees meeting to complain about ailments and those darn millennials. Nope. On the contrary, the friends living with dementia who meet to share Carpe Diem Luncheon are boisterous, hungry, funny- too busy connecting and catching up, making new friends, and enjoying conversation to complain.
We meet at Athens Pizza in Decatur, or Chilis in Dunwoody, or Grapevines in Dahlonega, or De Palmas in Athens, sometimes somewhere very special like Petite Violette for Valentines. Members express that the normalcy of the luncheon-the opportunity to connect with others on the same road at a common table is exactly what the doctor ordered at a time when life can get overwhelming.
In fact, this luncheon is what Alzheimer’s disease experts order. Socialization is one of the key lifestyle interventions that people living with early stage diagnosis and their care partners are urged to adopt and practice along with a healthy diet, daily exercise, cognitive strategies, and lowering stress. An active lifestyle is a cognitive exercise! The members of the Georgia Chapter Early-Stage Program gave their group the name Carpe Diem because they recognize the need to seize the day and take every opportunity to connect in community in order to maintain joy in life as we age-and importantly, as we live with dementia.
Joy is not a word often associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. But join us at a Carpe Diem luncheon, and you will soon experience the revolutionary joy we have the audacity to share in this community we have created together. Yes, we also share support groups, museum tours, and education classes. We do have serious conversations at times about all of the challenges and sadness that does come with any chronic diagnosis. But we also share joy, laughter, a darn good joke whenever we can.
If you, or someone you know, would like more information about the Carpe Diem Early-Stage Program of the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, please call our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900. The state-wide program is designed for both the person living with dementia and their primary care partners.
For more information about the care and support services, including the early stage programs, visit alz.org/georgia
The sun may have set on The Longest Day, but the fight against Alzheimer’s continues. As you probably know, you can raise funds through July 31 to qualify for great prizes and continue raising awareness in your community. But we thought we’d take it one step further…
Across Georgia, The Longest Day fundraising is still HOT! So why not keep everything cool with an insulated tote? Raise $150+ between July 12-31 to earn. No rules to reach the minimum, but we’ve got some suggestions to help you snag it!
Make a $35 self-donation
Ask 2 family members to donate $25 each
Ask 3 friends to donate $20 each to your Facebook Fundraiser.
You’ve come so far, but the fight against Alzheimer’s doesn’t stop here. Keep up the great work with your fundraising — together, we’ll reach a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.
WE ALL HAVE A REASON SHINE A LIGHT ON THE FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.
The day with the most light is the day we fight! On The Longest Day, thousands of participants from across the world will come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they will use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association®.
Chair, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter Board of Directors
My Father, Coy Widner, taught me life lessons most Fathers teach their little girls. Mine taught me to be assertive but kind; be independent but have healthy relationships; have a hard work ethic but put family first; and face a challenge head on. Meeting him you meet the strong and dependable retired military officer. You meet my Hero.
As someone living with Alzheimer’s you meet my Daddy who is social, charming, and intelligent. As Daddy, he taught me other precious lessons. When he came to live with me, I had to learn other lessons quickly knowing that Alzheimer’s does not allow you to be a slow learner. My first lesson as one of the 11 million unpaid caregivers was Alzheimer’s has no cure, worsens over time and will be a personal journey.
My lessons continued as I learned to have patience to listen when Daddy would repeat a story and not assume that there is not a new detail or message that may have not been a part of the first time. To have patience that dinner will take longer and require reminders to eat. I still eat slower than most people. To have patience to explain why he could not sit in the car for a quick trip to the grocery store, but then have him want to walk down most every isle to look.
My lessons continue today to cherish and live in the moment. I had to learn to slow down my hectic pace and appreciate the time right now. With Daddy I learned to enjoy the conversations even as my heart breaks in the knowledge that he will not remember this precious time.
And a lesson I did not do very well was to rely on others. My Father taught me to be independent, my Daddy was teaching me the part of having healthy relationships. I was so focused on Daddy that when someone asked what they could do to help me, I just did not know. I learned again that healthy relationships are letting other people help me.
My Father taught me to face a challenge head on and as a caregiver for Daddy living with Alzheimer’s this is a challenge no one should face alone. With the help of The Alzheimer’s Association, I find the encouragement to find purpose and work to end Alzheimer’s.
Daddy is no longer with us, but Daddy is still my Hero.
Last week, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) Advocacy Forum, the nation’s premier Alzheimer’s disease advocacy event was held. The event offered volunteer advocates from across the country, including 50 from Georgia, to lend their voice, share their stories about why they’re fighting to #ENDALZ.
Several of our Georgia advocates, whose voices were heard while meeting with their district legislators, talked about why they are advocates and what the hope will be accomplished in Washington, D.C to help people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
TAMMY KAY BRUNSON – Ambassador to Representative Jody Hice (R-GA 10th District)
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? My daddy passed away in October 2018 from an 8-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. He fell out of the bed, broke his hip and never recovered. He died at home 2 weeks later when his brain could no longer tell his body to swallow or breathe. It was very peaceful. I retired from teaching school in 2014 and was able to help my mother, his full time caregiver, on a daily basis. This time spent with my parents was a special blessing that I will always be grateful!
My parents and I participated in activities for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers provided by the Alzheimer’s Association district office in nearby Augusta, GA. That was such a blessing also! Through this, I was asked to consider advocating for the Alzheimer’s Association.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? Meeting all the other people with ties to this dreaded disease and how they have taken care of their loved ones.
3. What has been your overall experience with attending Forum in the past? First time to Forum? What are you looking forward to? Participating in Forum in DC is the best experience I’ve ever had. The hope and joy in the face of the adversity shared by the advocates is unfathomable! My daddy was always so proud that his baby girl was going to Washington, DC “to talk to the Big Man (the president) about Alzheimer’s!”
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? My personal desire is for my particular fiscally, conservative congressman to support our asks!
DONNA CAMACHO – Ambassador for Representative Buddy Carter (GA 1st District )
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? My Mother was diagnosed in 1997 and lived with Alzheimer’s for the next 10 years. Although two of her three daughters were nurses, we knew almost nothing about this disease and reached out to the local Alzheimer’s chapter for information and support. I learned about the disease and learned that there was so much that was unknown – both in the physiology and etiology of the disease and in the care of the person living with the disease. I want to help move the scale in any way possible toward a treatment or a cure and I want families to have more resources than we had when my Mother was diagnosed.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? The reward is that we are making progress both in the knowledge of the disease and in resources available to families. The reward is when a family tells you they were helped by the information we provided and their journey was somewhat easier.
3. What has been your overall experience with attending Forum in the past? First time to Forum? What are you looking forward to? This may have been my 9th Forum – I’ve lost track. Forum is a renewal of spirit, a renewal and a rededication to our purpose to end Alzheimer’s. It’s one of those times (in non-virtual times) when you have to be there to fully understand the impact of more that 1300 people who all share the same passion and commitment – to End Alzheimer’s – in the same space!
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? I hope that we will have the same impact through our Virtual Forum that we have in person on The Hill. I am excited for the new legislation and hope that all of us can convey the importance of all our “ASKS” to our Congress and get 100% support.
PATTI HEWITT – Advocate Volunteer for Representative Buddy Carter (GA 1st District)
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? I advocate because Alzheimer’s is a disease like no other. Caring for my husband, who died of younger onset Alzheimer’s, was a terrible lesson on how inadequate our healthcare infrastructure to meet the intense demands of this disease. I am his memory and wish to be a small part of the change we need to better support our families and communities.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? Meeting and working with other advocates and giving a voice to our loved ones.
3. What has been your overall experience with attending Forum in the past? First time to Forum? What are you looking forward to? This was my first time to Forum. I’m enjoyed sharing with our legislators how important their work is to improve the lives of their constituents dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? I want to ensure that our representatives have a better understanding of the impact their support of this legislation could have on families in their state.
ROB POLAK – Ambassador to Representative Andrew Clyde (GA 9th District)
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? For my family that has been ravaged by Alzheimer’s….the following have all passed due to this disease: Grandfather John, Uncle John, Aunt Mary, Mother Rita, Sister Rita. I, and millions of other Americans live in fear of this disease. Therefore, I have chosen to do what I can to make a positive impact toward our vision…. A World without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias!
I do this by advocating with the Alzheimer’s Association! This includes multiple activities – from being the Chairman of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s-Gainesville, to being a member of the Board of Directors, to working with our elected officials on budgets and legislation that make a positive impact in the lives of those impacted and their caregivers.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? It is helpful to know that others have been impacted by the disease and they also live in fear of the disease. Advocating creates a shared bond with these other victims and their caregivers. Getting to know these people, hearing their personal stories of struggle and small victories, and understanding how they have/are dealing with the disease is inspiring!
3. 2021 was my 5th forum. I enjoyed increasing my knowledge and understanding of the disease. I also enjoyed connecting/reconnecting with other advocates, and meeting with my elected officials to educate them on why we need their help and how they can support our cause!
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? I am confident that we educated our elected officials on Alzheimer’s and other dementias and its devastating impact on our country. I am hopeful we will obtain their unwavering support for our priorities (legislative and budget asks) in 2021 and beyond.
TVONIA THOMAS – Ambassador to Representative Barry Loudermilk – (GA-11th District)
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? I chose advocacy to live my dream of one day experiencing a dementia free world. Though this dream has not materialized, being an advocate helps me put my passion in action so that I may help in every conceivable way. I am an advocate not only for the current generations that suffer, but for my generation as well. I cannot imagine being as cognitively sound as I am now, then to gradually lose the ability to recognize the people I love most. As a caregiver, advocate, and student of Gerontology, I realized that my passion was helping individuals and families dealing with this dilapidating disease is very much needed; to say the least.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? Being an advocate has tremendously blessed my life in several ways. Before volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association last year I did not really know what, my exact purpose was in life. Through this process I have had the opportunity to network with other ALZ volunteers that share my same sentiments. The Alzheimer’s Association has a lot of valuable training and resources that I use for my clients and family members/acquaintances that may be having trouble with finding help. Overall, I am elated to be able to exercise my voice for such a dire public health threat.
3.What has been your overall experience with attending Forum in the past? First time to Forum? What are you looking forward to? I super excited as this was my first time attending the AIM Forum. Though virtual, I believe that our impact will be astronomical.
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? This year, my hope is to see our legislators here in GA and all over the United States take a stand to assist our most fragile population with the necessary care, resources, and support to combat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
ANGIE YOUNG – Advocate Volunteer to Representative Rick Allen (GA 12th District)
1. Why did you decide to advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia? I decided to be an advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia for my mom and grandma. My mom passed away on April 9, 2021 and was diagnosed with Frontal Lobe dementia two years ago. My grandma passed away a few years ago with Alzheimer’s.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an advocate? The most rewarding part of being an advocate is being a voice for those that don’t have a voice.
3. What has been your overall experience with attending Forum in the past? First time to Forum? What are you looking forward to? This was my first time attending the Forum.
4. What is your desired outcome of this year’s Forum? My desired outcome is results and change.
With help from our Georgia advocates like Donna, Tammy Kay, Patti, Rob, Tvonia and Angie, we’ve passed critical legislation and increased federal research funding seven-fold since 2011.
But our work isn’t done and we need dedicated advocates like you to build on this success in Congress and in every state capital. We’ll train you to advocate in a variety of ways, some of which take just an hour or two every few months. Whatever your experience and availability, we’re eager to have you on our advocacy team!