Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Hosts Free Conference in New York
Guest post by Carol Steinberg, Acting CEO, AFA
The rising number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers often feel alone and unequipped to handle the daily challenges the brain disorder can bring. To offset this, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) will offer a hands-on opportunity for people to gain support and practical skills at its free “5 Boroughs Concepts in Care Conference” in New York on June 26.
This daylong educational event, which will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, and despite the name, is open to all. The AFA-sponsored conference will feature three tracks of study – one for family caregivers, one for healthcare professionals, and one for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness.
Presentations by top health and caregiving experts will range from an understanding of the disease and tips for daily living to more hushed-over topics, such as heading off potential violence and how to handle inappropriate sexual behavior.
In addition, the conference will feature various dementia-related activities, including confidential memory screenings, the “Virtual Dementia Tour”—an interactive simulation of what it feels like to have dementia, and an exhibit hall. On the emotional side, AFA will display three dozen quilt panels from its powerful and heartfelt “AFA Quilt to Remember,” and Raymond W. Holman, Jr., a Philadelphia photographer, will show insightful portraits of family caregivers.
AFA introduced its “5 Boroughs Concepts in Care Conference” last year to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the long-time annual “Mayoral Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease.” In New York state, it is estimated that more than 300,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders.
Presenters will include Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist and founder and president of Brain Health Center, Inc., opening in Pittsburgh this fall, which will take a holistic approach to wellness and brain health; Susan Glister, Ph.D., RN, renowned speaker on the disease and a founder and former executive director of the Alois Alzheimer Center, Cincinnati, the first dementia-specific facility in the United States; and Melanie Bunn, RN, a dementia training specialist for Alzheimer’s North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.
In addition, Molly Arnold-Gay, granddaughter of Frank Broyles, former athletic director of the University of Arkansas and author of “Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers,” will provide insight into intergenerational caregiving. Arnold-Gay spent her teenage years helping to care for her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease.
For individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, facilitators will engage attendees in horticultural, art, dance and other creative activities that showcase the benefits of social and mental stimulation. AFA will also offer respite care – supervised by professional caregivers – for people with more advanced dementia who are unable to participate in the sessions.
The “AFA Quilt to Remember” is an extraordinary work of art that marks a moving tribute to people living with dementia and their families. Introduced in 2005, as the nation’s first large-scale dementia-related quilt, it now consists of more than 150 unique panels. The majority are embellished with photographs, sentimental mementos and love notes.
Several panels that will be on display were made in the tri-state area, including one created by clients attending the adult day program at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center, East Hills, N.Y.
“We’re showing people [with Alzheimer’s disease] as productive people, and that is the goal of our program,” said Connie Wasserman, an associate executive director at the JCC. “These are people who just happen to have Alzheimer’s disease. We don’t define them by the disease.”
Attendees will also receive free breakfast, lunch, program materials and giveaways. Eli Lilly and Forest Laboratories are the presenting sponsors of the family caregiver sessions. For more information and to register, call AFA at 866-232-8484.
Carol Steinberg is acting chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). She oversees daily operations, strategic partnerships, advocacy efforts, program development, messaging, and all other aspects of this leading national organization dedicated to providing optimal care to individuals with dementia and their families. Prior to her appointment as acting CEO, Carol served as executive vice president since the organization’s founding in 2002.