Below are highlights of our Winter 2009 newsletter; to view the newsletter in its entirety, click here.
- From the Executive Director
- Alzheimer's Disease and African-Americans: A Call to Action
- 2009 Spring Symposium
- Almost Patsy Cline Band to perform at Abilene fundraiser on April 10
- Bellamy Brothers offer special performance at April 23 Dinner and Auction in Fort Worth
- Caregiver Seminars in Wichita Falls and Abilene
- 2009 Legislative and Advocacy Update
- Ask the Expert
As I write this column in the waning days of 2008, news about our nation’s economic downturn continues to be prominent. It has been a tough year for many; most of us have personally felt the economic impact in some way. Current predictions suggest the end of our nation’s financial woes is not yet in sight. In our personal and professional worlds, we will have to continue to tighten our belts.
In light of these challenges, putting together the material for this newsletter gives me an even greater sense of urgency mixed with encouragement about the important work of the Alzheimer’s Association. We all know Alzheimer’s disease will not slow down because of tough economic times. Fortunately, the reach of our chapter services continues to be extensive and local financial support has been steady!
You will see we have an array of topics, dates and locations for educational programs over the coming months. Our 30-some support groups are strong and continue to provide new opportunities for learning and connecting with other caregivers throughout the 40 counties our chapter serves. We held our major annual symposium in Fort Worth in March, and held major conferences in Wichita Falls and Abilene this spring. We are still able to offer case management, counseling and respite services in some areas of our chapter and eventually hope to extent the reach of these programs. Our toll-free 24/7 Helpline enables families to keep contacting us - day and night. In Fiscal Year 2008, our chapter had well over 3,300 callers to our Helpline! And, in 2008 we started concentrated efforts to reach one group that generally had not been accessing our services locally - African-Americans. As I hope you could tell by the special Black History Month article, our efforts are going well with our African-American outreach. Contact our office to learn more about our Black History Month education event held on February 28.
Checkout the special insert about our spectacular 2008 Memory Walk season! Despite the economy, not to mention a hurricane coming through on the day of our Waco walk, our chapter significantly exceeded our budgeted goals for funds raised through our six Memory Walks! Thank you to every individual, family and business that supported us in some way. What a testimony to your belief in our mission! We have important upcoming spring fund raisers, especially our “Steppin’ Out for Memories” in Abilene on April 10 and “Thanks for the Memories” in Fort Worth on April 23. As a long time country music lover, I am pretty excited that we will feature the Bellamy Brothers at our Fort Worth event.
Despite tough times, good work and generous support continues at the Alzheimer’s Association - North Central Texas Chapter. We will keep working hard to carry out our mission to help those dealing with this disease, while we work to advance research. If you need our help, please call us or sign up to attend one of our programs. If you are in a position to support us, please use this link to make an on-line donation, call us at 800.272.3900 or contact your local office.
Thank you and here’s to a 2009 filled with hope and encouragement!
by Felichia Fields, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator
One of the great things about the month of February is that Black History Month is celebrated. This month marks the remembrance of all the struggles, great accomplishments and life experiences of African-Americans. African-American history dates back to the colonial period. In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first Negro History Week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Dr. Woodson was a scholar who earned a doctorate from Harvard in 1912, and he found during his studies that there was not much recorded history about African-Americans. As the years passed, African-Americans began to embrace their heritage and acknowledge its importance. From this beginning, Black History Month was born in 1976. Since then, every February people across the nation and the world celebrate the history, accomplishments, joys and pains of the African-American race.
While we celebrate the contributions of people like Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and so many others, we should also celebrate our health and well-being. One of the great facts about our history is that education has always been one of the most important goals for our race to accomplish. We must remember that we not only have to be educated about history, mathematics, English and reading, but also about our health. During this month, let’s educate ourselves about the silent epidemic among us, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are of particular concern to African-Americans. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, destroys brain cells causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies and social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Vascular dementia, which may produce symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease, is caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. Compared to Caucasians, African-Americans have a higher incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These medical conditions also put African-Americans at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It’s important that African-Americans understand the risk factors, symptoms and best strategies for coping with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
African-American people are natural caregivers. Throughout the decades and centuries we have been known to care for everyone else. Let’s take this February and think more about caring for ourselves. Let’s take this year to see our doctor and let him or her know if we are noticing differences in the behaviors and memories of our loved ones. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia or other forms of dementia are not something that we can ignore; symptoms will not go away. So this month, let’s educate ourselves; let’s not go another day without getting help for someone we love.
The acclaimed African-American author, James Baldwin said it best, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia must be faced. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem. Let’s take this month to realize that while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments that will slow its progression. There are many services available so that we can take a proactive stance against this disease. Let’s not let the dreams of Carter G. Woodson fade away. Let’s continue to educate ourselves about everything including dementia. Remember that the Alzheimer’s Association is here to help you through this process of acknowledging, coping and living with dementia.
In honor of Black History Month, the Alzheimer’s Association held a seminar, Alzheimer’s: The Black Experience, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 28. Learn more about this special educational opportunity by contacting Felichia Fields for more information. Learn more about our Multi-Cultural Outreach program here.
by Howard Gruetzner, Education and Family Care Specialist
What should families understand about the guilt that often accompanies caregiving?
Guilt is a common experience of family caregivers. Often it is triggered by what family caregivers believe they should do, do more of or do better. Or what they have failed to do under circumstances they may have never before faced. It is not so much a feeling about actual wrongs that have been committed but expectations that are mismatched with the increasing demands of taking care of another person. Wrongs are more likely to be perceived rather than actual. Caring for someone we have known and loved who may not be aware of the needs we see, or agree with what we believe needs to be done, is new territory. In one sense, caregivers recognize that a disease like Alzheimer’s changes the way someone they have known perceives and responds to situations. In another sense, they realize they must act in the best interest of the person receiving care - even if he or she does not agree with what is best or right. However, this acknowledgement does not diminish the burden family caregivers describe as guilt.
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