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In this issue:

A New Year and New Faces: Meet Our Program Staff Members

We’re building on last year’s successes and looking forward to exciting developments in 2014! 2013 was quite a year for the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter. We expanded our office space, our staff and our overall presence in the state. All these changes have allowed us to better serve Oregonians affected by Alzheimer’s, and we are more committed than ever to providing information and support for families and individuals dealing with this devastating disease.

We look forward to continuing to fulfill our mission in 2014 and beyond, and we are excited to roll out some exciting developments this year. These include including our community classes and programs throughout Oregon. 

Along those lines, we would like to introduce you to the members of our program staff. Some faces are new, and others are likely familiar, but everyone on our program team works tirelessly to educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease, provide music- and art-based settings for individuals with dementia, develop trainings for law-enforcement officers, lead support groups — the list goes on and on. We are grateful for all their efforts, and if you would like to learn more about what they do, visit

Shelly Edwards, Outreach and Program Director

A librarian by training, Shelly is no stranger to the Alzheimer’s Association — in 2007, she was hired at the National Capital Area Chapter, where she worked in myriad capacities: professional training, program development, crisis intervention, public speaking and event coordination, among others. In 2009, she began training first responders and police officers about safety for people with dementia. One year later, she became a certified member of the Crisis Intervention Team by the departments of police, health and human services, and correction and rehabilitation in Montgomery County, Maryland. Shelly came to the Oregon Chapter in November 2013. “I want to help people when they get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” she says. “This is not an easy diagnosis, but their lives are not over. It’s about finding joy in the moment and finding a ‘new normal.’”

Caitlin Bradley, Resource Specialist

In January 2014, Caitlin joined the Field Services Team in our Cascade Coast office. As a nursing assistant, Caitlin worked with people who had Alzheimer’s disease. Before that, she provided long-term case management for adults with disabilities. Caitlin has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in French literature. She provides care consultations, helps facilitate support groups and assists with Memories in Making®, among other things. “I’m excited to be part of this strong community,” Caitlin says, “and I look forward to offering support and helping people get answers.”

Margaret Hartsook, Memories in the Making® Program Coordinator

An artist with a master’s degree in art therapy, Margaret inspires creativity as our Memories in the Making program coordinator. She worked as a bereavement counselor and art therapist at a hospice in Fort Collins, Colo., for about nine years. In January 2012, as a volunteer, Margaret helped launch Memories in the Making at the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter. She started working here full time in July 2013, and since then, she’s been expanding Memories in the Making at our Portland office — and across the state. “The art process is one of joy,” Margaret says. “And it inspires me to help people otherwise might not be able to find pleasure through creativity.”

Dawn Iwamasa, Early-Stage Program Coordinator

Dawn’s personal and professional interests intersect in meaningful ways; she is a classically trained flute player (who also sings and plays the guitar, harp and piano), as well as a board-certified music therapist. She has worked in private practice and at hospitals, and she has experience with individuals in the early, middle and late stages of dementia. Working in music therapy has been “fascinating, challenging and unexpectedly powerful,” she says. “Music is a very powerful tool.” Dawn joined the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter in November 2013, and she says she looks forward to doing more program-development work, especially with Sing Here Now.

Julia Luck, Program Specialist

Julia began working with older adults when she was 13, when she began volunteering at a nursing home across the street from her middle school. In addition, Julia was a co-caregiver for her grandfather, who had mixed dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Julia graduated from Portland State University with a Master of Social Work and a certificate in gerontology, and she started at the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter in November 2013. “I want people to have more conversations about Alzheimer’s to remove stigma surrounding the disease,” she says.” “It’s very personal work, and it’s very important work.”

A Canvas for Creativity

Memories in the Making® is a fine arts program designed to meet the needs of people in all stages Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. It is a method of inspiring, assisting and encouraging individuals with these diagnoses to express themselves by creating original art. 

Founded in Orange County, California, more than 20 years ago and endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, Memories in the Making is active in many chapters across the country and around the world.

Whether participants were artists before their diagnosis or Memories in the Making is their first time making art, through the use of high-quality art materials and assistance of trained art facilitators, the artists let us into the world of Alzheimer’s. Much of the value of their paintings lies in the creative process of making art and expressing feelings.

Through Memories in the Making, we celebrate each person’s capacity to move from self-definition tied to their diagnosis to an extraordinary person capable of accessing internal resources and creativity.

Erika Lanning has witnessed the positive influence Memories in the Making has had on program participants, including her mother, Molly, whose artworks appears at the top of this page. "I like to see the process of artists looking around for inspiration, sitting down and focusing on their art," Erika says. "They persist, and finally there is an amazing product in the form of personal, meaningful and beautiful paintings. The process is joyful and healing, and my mom is proud of the paintings she has completed." For more information, contact Margaret Hartsook at 503-416-0206 or

"Lowtide" by Molly Romine

The Sound of Music

Sing Here Now was created in the spring of 2011 as a collaborative effort between the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter and Earthtones Music Therapy Services. It is a choir program that allows people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to make music together (even if they have no musical experience).

In addition, Sing Here Now also gives people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers an opportunity to have positive experiences — together. Family members are strongly encouraged to participate in Sing Here Now.

Sing Here Now also allows participants to benefit from music’s myriad wellness qualities, including reduced stress and improved mood. Additionally, music encourages deep breathing, which is an important part of wellness.

Sing Here Now consisted of two choirs last fall, one in Portland and one Beaverton. Both groups came together in December 2013 for a holiday concert.

For more information about future performances and program updates, contact Dawn Iwamasa at 503-416-0203 or

Classes Available in Person - And Online

The Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter offers classes every quarter. If you are unable to attend a class, or if a class is not being offered in your area, you still might be able to take it; some of the classes we offer can be taken online at These courses are able 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can take them whenever it is convenient for you. Here are the eight available e-learning courses:

Know the 10 Signs: Early Detection Matters – The warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are often dismissed as side effects of normal aging. If you or someone you know is experiencing memory loss or behavioral changes, it’s time to learn the facts. Early detection gives you a chance to begin drug therapy, enroll in clinical studies and plan for the future. Attend this training to learn the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Hear from people who have the disease and find out how to recognize the signs.

The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. If you or someone you know is affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s time to learn the facts. This program provides information on detection, causes, risk factors, stages of the disease, treatment and more.

Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease – The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease makes planning for the future more important than ever. “Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease” is an interactive, two-part program where you will have a chance to learn about important legal and financial issues to consider, how to put plans in place, and how to access legal and financial resources near you. This program will cover information for families and individuals dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

Living with Alzheimer’s: for People with Alzheimer’s – The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life changing and leads to many questions. What will this mean for me and my family? How do I plan for the future? Where can I get the help I need? In this three-part program, you will hear from others who have been where you are. You’ll learn what you need to know, what you need to plan, and what you can do as you navigate this chapter of your life.

Living with Alzheimer’s: For Caregivers: Early Stage – In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, families face new questions as they adjust. What does the diagnosis mean? What kinds of plans need to be made? What resources are available to help? This three-part program provides practical answers to the questions that arise in the early stage. Hear from those directly affected and learn how to cope with the changes that come with an early-stage diagnosis.

Living with Alzheimer’s: For Caregivers: Middle Stage – In the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease, those who were care partners now become hands-on caregivers. Join us for this three-part series and hear caregivers and professionals discuss helpful strategies to provide safe, effective and comfortable care in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s.

Living with Alzheimer’s: For Caregivers: Late Stage – In the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving typically involves new ways of connecting and interacting with the person with the disease. In this two-part series, you’ll hear from caregivers and professionals about resources, monitoring care and providing meaningful connection for the person with late-stage Alzheimer’s and their families.

Living with Alzheimer’s for Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s – When someone younger than 65 is diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, the first reaction is often shock or denial. Join us for this program to get answers to the questions that arise for people concerned about younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Hear from those directly affected and learn what you need to know, what you need to plan, and what you can do to ease the impact throughout the course of the disease.

Please note that two of the above classes, “Know the 10 Signs” and “The Basics,” are available in Spanish online.

"I Have Alzheimer's" Website

Have you recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease? We recommend that your first online stop be "I Have Alzheimer's" is a new section of the Alzheimer's Association website, and it was created with input from individuals living with the disease. It is easy to navigate and help answers many questions, including:

  • How do others respond to their diagnosis?
  • What should I expect as the disease progresses?
  • How should I plan for my future?
  • How do I live day to day?
  • What resources are available through the Alzheimer's Association?

This comprehensive website offers information and advice for people in the early stage of the disease. We encourage users to take their time and digest the content at a comfortable pace. They can return as often as needed — we’re always here to help.

Alzheimer's and Public Health

When most people think of public health, restaurant inspections or anti-smoking campaigns come to mind. But what about Alzheimer’s? We are working to make this devastating disease a public health issue.

Public health generally looks at the “upstream” cause of health issues in an effort to prevent health problems later, for example, urging people to get exercise to reduce their risk of heart disease or diabetes. Now that we know heart disease and diabetes are risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s, public health promotion can include it as another reason to get exercise. 

The health impact on family caregivers is also a public health issue. Data show that people are more likely to suffer from serious physical and mental health problems from being a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s. The public health approach to this issue will have multiple elements, but it will include providing caregivers with more information on where to get help, as well as advocating for more supports for caregivers.

The state’s public health community is beginning to embrace Alzheimer’s as an issue. Over the next six months, we will be working with Oregon public health officials to implement action items from The Healthy Brain Initiative, a roadmap for public health activity on Alzheimer’s disease developed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information about Alzheimer’s and public health, contact Sarah Holland, field services director, at 503-416-0214 or at

SPADO Update

Many good things have come from the creation of the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease in Oregon (SPADO) — and more are on the way. The Oregon Legislature endorsed SPADO in 2013, and lawmakers also put their money where their mouth is by providing funding for three aspects of SPADO.

The state plan is a collaborative process with stakeholders from government, business and nonprofits, and all are still deeply involved with the implementation of the plan. Several work groups are meeting to discuss SPADO recommendations, including quality standards and accountability in long-term care settings, creating a dementia-capable health care workforce and training for court-appointed guardians.

Further, we are partnering with the State Unit on Aging, which received a grant that will lead to the creation of a one-stop-shop website for people affected by Alzheimer’s in Oregon, as well as create a public awareness campaign about Alzheimer’s.

The Oregon Chapter is co-chairing the SPADO Implementation Team, and we are committed to seeing every recommendation in the plan realized. If you have questions about SPADO, please contact please contact Jon Bartholomew, the Oregon Chapter’s public policy director, at 503-416-0202 or

Presentation Volunteers Wanted!

The Alzheimer's Association Oregon Chapter is seeking volunteers for our Speaker's Bureau, members of which are high-profile representatives of the association. These volunteers deliver presentations designed to assist the general public in understanding the basics of Alzheimer’s disease and the services we offer. 

In addition to experience with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia and strong presentation skills, volunteer presenters must be willing and able to learn and adhere to developed curriculum to ensure consistency and quality of these programs across the state and throughout the country.
Ideal candidates have experience in public speaking and a high degree of comfort working independently. This is a long-term volunteer position; interested individuals must be willing to commit to the role for a minimum of two years.

For more information, contact Shelly Edwards, outreach and program director, at 503-416-0207 or at



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Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.