By Riley Hendersen
When the Alzheimer’s Association was formed in April of 1980, many people were still doubting the disease existed. In the years before the Alzheimer’s Association was formed, many people thought the symptoms of the disease where simply a sign of getting older.
The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is “a world without Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the organization’s website. Individuals and businesses fund the nonprofit organization, that in turn funds research and local programs.
According to the organization’s website, the Alzheimer’s Association began in 1980 with a budget of only $75,000 and only seven chapters located in Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle. It was that same year that major medical organizations began looking at the disease. The National Institute of Health allotted $13 million for Alzheimer’s research. The nonprofit organization now has more than 600 chapters across the nation and is a multi-million dollar institution. According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, since its inception the organization has funded more than 1,400 projects totaling more than $185 million.
Ironically, the most famous person stricken with the disease gave the Alzheimer’s Association one of its biggest public-awareness boosts. The first National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Week was declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Later Reagan would be the most famous Alzheimer’s patient in the world.
Through its local chapters, the Alzheimer’s Association offers support groups, referral services and free information to the public. The local chapters and the national Alzheimer’s Association rely on tax-deductible donations and fundraisers to continue funding research, offer support and educate the public about Alzheimer’s.
Many communities across the nation participate in the annual Memory Walk, an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser that remembers those suffering from the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than $200 million has been raised by Memory Walk since 1989.
After many highly-publicized stories of Alzheimer’s patients wandering away from their homes or nursing homes, the organization began the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program which works much like similar programs for children. Family members pay $40 to enroll their loved one in the program. The Alzheimer’s Association provides 24-hour, 365-day support if the patient becomes missing. Their information is given to local authorities by the Alzheimer’s Association to help in the search. The enrolled patient is given an identification bracelet or necklace and iron-on clothing labels.
The Alzheimer’s Association also refers caregivers to families needing support. Not only does the Alzheimer’s Association have a list of agencies and individuals providing care, but the organization also has information on how to pay for care, the different types of care available and answers about how to handle tax liability.
The Alzheimer’s Association also has a support line that is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling 1-800-272-3900, family members and those affected by Alzheimer’s can get information and referrals. When family members are overwhelmed and patients are confused about the effects of the disease, the first place they usually call is Alzheimer’s Association.
For more information on Alzheimers, try visiting www.helpwithalzheimers.com – a website that specializes in providing Alzheimers related tips, advice and resources to include information on Alzheimers association.
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