The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
It was founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and individuals interested in research. Today, the Association reaches millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s across the globe through its headquarters in Chicago, a public policy office in Washington, D.C., and a presence in communities across the country.
The Alzheimer’s Association has been recognized as a top large nonprofit to work for by The NonProfit Times, the leading information provider for the nonprofit sector.
Tracy Morgan is the Executive Director of the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, shares more about how the Alzheimer’s Association’s serves the community, its mission for the future, and what success means to her.
What is the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association?
To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
The Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter provides education and support for people diagnosed, their families, and caregivers. From our offices throughout the state, the Oregon Chapter reaches out to diverse communities by providing information and resources, 24/7 telephone help lines, local support groups and educational programs, an annual caregivers conference and a nationwide identification program, and MedicAlert + Safe Return — for people with Alzheimer’s disease who may wander and get lost.
What are you most proud of about your work?
We have done so many great things to be proud of, but to highlight a few I will first say being a resource and helping families as they navigate such a difficult journey. Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease and we are here to stand by families.
We are truly committed to accelerating the global effort to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease. Since awarding our first grants in 1982, the Association has grown into the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. Over the life of our grants program, we have invested over $375 million in more than 2,400 scientific investigations.
Here in Oregon, we have invested more than 1.9 million dollars into local Alzheimer’s and dementia-related research. In fact, earlier this year we presented the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity in the amount of $146,784 to Dr. Raina Croff of Oregon Health & Science University.
Lastly, we have an amazing staff that is truly committed to the cause. It is an honor to work alongside these individuals to do more every day then we did yesterday!
How can the community get involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s this summer and fall?
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. There are more than 600 Walks across the country, including 6 here in Oregon. There is still time to make a difference. Register for a team or make a donation to support the cause.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants will learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, advocacy opportunities, clinical studies enrollment, and support programs and services. Walkers will also honor those affected by Alzheimer’s disease with the Promise Garden ceremony.
To start or join a team, visit alz.org/Walk.
What are common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that is often misunderstood:
- Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. It’s a progressive brain disease without any cure.
- Alzheimer’s is fatal. It kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
- Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
- Though age is the greatest risk factor, not everyone with Alzheimer’s is “old.” Approximately 200,000 people under the age of 65 are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s in the United States.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death. Currently, there is no way to prevent, cure, or even slow Alzheimer’s disease.
- By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you may be able to reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
How can we best support those who have Alzheimer’s?
Each individual’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease is unique. The most important thing is to let those living with the disease know that they are not alone. There is much you can do in the early stage to cope with the changes ahead, from education classes and support groups to online message boards and clinical trials. We encourage those who have been recently diagnosed and their families or care partners to visit alz.org or call our 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 to schedule an in-person care consultation.
It’s also pertinent to keep in mind the caregiver. Caring for a loved one can be difficult – physically and emotionally. Caregivers need to remember to take care of their own health, which can often be a challenge. The Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center can help caregivers find the resources and support they need, with reliable information on caregiving skills and training, respite care, legal and financial planning, safety issues and more.
How do you define success?
Success is working towards a mutual goal to create a win/win relationship for everyone involved. At the Alzheimer’s Association we have very large goals in front of us. We will not get their alone. Everyone has a reason to be the face of Alzheimer’s and together we will work towards recognizing success – our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.
Learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association’s impact on their website.