CHICAGO – In an effort to increase awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and to remind caregivers they are not alone, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Illinois. Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s throughout the United States, but those numbers are expected to triple in the next three decades if a cure or effective treatment is not found. In Illinois alone, there are more than 210,000 adults who are afflicted by this disease.
“Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease and Illinois is fully committed to improving healthcare, promoting research, and providing and enhancing care and support for all affected,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I want to thank the caregivers who give up and go through so much to help their loved ones with this disease and I commend the work of adult day services and other organizations that offer help and hope to people battling Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s is an incurable neurological disorder that destroys the brain’s memory cells. It also causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior and can be severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.
Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is an opportune time to educate the public about available resources throughout the state.
Through the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program (CCP), adult day services are available to assist eligible older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. The Department contracts with 70 adult day services providers with multiple facilities located throughout the state, several specializing in serving older adults with Alzheimer’s.
“Adult day services are a wonderful option to help older adults with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. It provides a structured environment which includes activities to improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from the disease, as well as provides a break to those individual dedicated to caring for their loved ones,” said Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson.
In addition to adult day services, other CCP services designed to keep older adults in their home and communities include homemaker, emergency home response services, assistive technology and in some areas senior companions. Additional services, such as respite, home delivered meals, and services that support caregivers for older adults are provided through Area Agencies on Aging and their local networks of service providers.
For more information on the Department on Aging’s programs and resources, call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (888-206-1327 TTY) or visit the website at http://www.state.il.us/aging/.
The Governor also commended the work done by the many organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, that help seniors and family members cope with and combat the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides supportive programs and services to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. In addition, they offer special programs such as assistance to individuals with Alzheimer’s who live alone, people living with early-onset Alzheimer's, rural and/or multicultural outreach, care coordination services, and training programs for families and professionals. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-272-3900 or by contacting their local chapter at www.alz.org
“The Alzheimer’s Association applauds the Governor for his attention to the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on Illinois residents. The increased awareness this proclamation brings will benefit more than 210,000 Illinois residents afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers—more than 600,000 Illinoisans in all,” said Erna E. Colborn, President and CEO of Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Illinois Chapter.
“Having endured this disease with my husband for 12 years and knowing the mental stress as well as the financial burden it placed upon my life - I am so encouraged that with Gov. Blagojevich’s support, people who are needing assistance and for whatever reason will not make the step forward will do so knowing they are not alone. There are people that do care and will assist them. I am so thankful for the Alzheimer's Association for what they did for me as a caregiver,” said Sherry Meadows, advocate and ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The full text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:
WHEREAS, today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s throughout the United States. In the State of Illinois, there are more than 210,000 adults currently afflicted by the disease; and
WHEREAS, a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior, and usually begins gradually, causing a person to forget recent events and to have difficulty performing familiar tasks; and
WHEREAS, 1 in 8 adults age 65 and over, and nearly half of those over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s, as well as a small percentage of Americans under 65; and
WHEREAS, those who have Alzheimer’s live an average of 20 years from the onset of symptoms, and only an average of 4 to 6 years after diagnosis; and
WHEREAS, unfortunately, there is no form of prevention or known cure for Alzheimer’s, and unless any are found, it is estimated that 11 to 16 million Americans will have the disease by the year 2050:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim November 2007 as Alzheimer’s disease AWARENESS MONTH in Illinois to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, and in support of efforts to combat this debilitating disease that affects so many families in our state.