2011 Alz Logo 

24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900


December 2011 eNewsletter

Chapter Updates

From our family to yours... Happy Holidays from everyone at the
Alzheimer's Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter!


We hope you have a warm and safe holiday season filled with beautiful moments with family and friends. As one year closes and another soon begins, we pause to think about everything we have accomplished together with your help and what is still to be done. We are almost halfway through the first year of a very aggressive three-year plan to move our mission forward. We have committed to accomplishing real goals in the areas of improving our programs, raising awareness, public policy, research towards finding a cure and better treatments, while growing revenue to support our mission. Thanks to you and a very hardworking team, we are well on our way!


We have had an amazing year so far:

  • We have helped over 1,200 people with information and referral through our Helpline. We have given 233 families care consultation services in person or on the phone. There were over 3,400 people who attended more than 180 local education programs, and we have hosted 33 active support groups through our 23 counties.
  • We kicked off a national and local media campaigns to help raise awareness. There were over 70 local radio, newspapers, and cable stations who picked up stories about Walk To End Alzheimer's alone!
  • Volunteers and staff traveled to Washington, D.C. to the annual Alzheimer's Advocacy Forum on Capitol Hill. We have recruited over 2,500 new advocates and have been recruiting several new Ambassadors to talk with our State Senators and Congress Members to tell them why Alzheimer's care and research is critically important.
  • Nationally, we launched Trialmatch to link research volunteers to local and national Alzheimer's studies. Locally we have recruited many people through our Walks and research events. Our board chair, Bruno Giordani, Ph.D. attended theAlzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Paris, France to represent our chapter and learn all of the latest news on Alzheimer's research. We would like to thank Dr. Giordani for creating a dynamic presentation, taking the time to educate staff, and traveling to three of our regions to speak to caregivers and people with Alzheimer's. 
  • Walk to End Alzheimer's is our signature event and brings together education, advocacy, and research opportunities in a place that is accessible to everyone. It is also our largest fundraiser. This year, our eleven Walks raised over $470,000 -  a growth of 28% from last year.  We had 5,172 people join us - a 67% increase over last year and an amazing 145% increase over the 2,111 walkers in 2009. 

I want to thank our staff and our amazing volunteers for all of our accomplishments!  We have great volunteer speakers, Helpline staff, office volunteers, Walk committee members, advocates, ambassadors, and board members! We have just a small number of paid staff and hundreds of volunteers who make this all happen! We also couldn't do what we do without our generous donors, fundraisers, and community partners! Thank you!

We do, however, still have a long way to go. We still know that we are not reaching all of the people who need our help. We still do not have a cure for Alzheimer's or even good enough options for treatment. We know that if we do nothing to halt this disease, we may see as many as 16 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer's by the year 2050.


I am confident that 2012 will be an exciting year for all of us. Our national office and our chapter are launching wonderful and exciting new education programs including Living with Alzheimer's, Legal and Financial Planning as well as Children and Teens. We will also introduce an online care consultation service to reach more people. Everyone will be able to go online, create a profile, and have access to information on the disease including care suggestions as well as local programs through the chapter or through other services. It will all be tailored to each individual!  We will, of course, continue to be available by phone 24 hours a day through our Helpline -  800.272.3900.  We will continue to push for funding at the national level for research and programs for caregivers. We look forward to AAIC in Vancouver, Canada in 2012. We will also introduce another wonderful fundraising event. Stay tuned! We are adding at least one new Walk for the 2012! We are excited to see our Walks continue to grow. Please visit us at www.alz.org anytime for the latest information on anything related to Alzheimer's disease and everything happening locally through our chapter!



Jenn Picture



Happy Holidays again! 



Jennifer Howard

Executive Director 


Meet the Chapter Staff

LisaPlease join us in congratulating Lisa Vickers on her new position as Communications Director for the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter.  She has been serving the Chapter as the Events Director, mostly steering the direction of our signature event - Walk to End Alzheimer's. Lisa is very well known in the Lansing community and in Brighton having directed the Walks in those areas.  Her excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and dedication to our mission helped the Chapter more than double our Walk participants in the last two years.  Lisa has agreed to lead the Chapter in raising concern about Alzheimer's disease as well as awareness not only for our Walks, but for all of our efforts Chapter-wide  - a critical piece of our mission.  Congratulations, Lisa!!  You can reach her at Lisa.Vickers@alz.org or 517.999.3336.



We are also excited about the addition of our newest team member in the West Shore region - Elizabeth Donnelly-Johnson. She started with the Chapter in September as a Program Coordinator in our Muskegon office.


Elizabeth got involved with the Association as a volunteer and in fact has a very strong non-profit volunteerism history. She met Chapter staff while volunteering for fundraising events and was recognized immediately as an individual with passion for our cause.

Elizabeth has a financial and teaching background and brings a personal experience with the disease to her position with the Association. She has taught at Davenport and Northwood Colleges in areas of business and communications, and she brings those skills to her role of program presenter for the West Shore region. Elizabeth is responsible for providing education programs to that five-county area as well as providing oversight and assistance to the volunteer facilitators who conduct caregiver support groups throughout the area.


As a Chapter, we welcome Elizabeth to the Alzheimer's Association and look forward to the work she has started and will continue! If you live in the Muskegon area or surrounding counties and are interested in education programs or caregiver support groups, please contact her at Elizabeth.Donnelly-Johnson@alz.org or 800.272.3900.  Welcome Elizabeth!!

Caregiver eNewsletter

Holiday Stress Relief for Caregivers 


For most families, holidays are filled with opportunities for togetherness, sharing, laughter and memories. But holidays can also be filled with stress, disappointment, and sadness.   Because of the changes he or she has experienced, the person with Alzheimer's may feel a special sense of loss during the holidays. At the same time, caregivers may feel overwhelmed maintaining holiday traditions while caring for their family member. In addition, caregivers may feel hesitant to invite family and friends over to share the holiday for fear they will be uncomfortable with behavior changes in the family member. Here are some suggestions that may help to make holidays happy, memorable occasions:


Adjust expectations

* Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a long-distance telephone conference call with family and friends to discuss holiday celebrations. Make sure that everyone understands your caregiving situation and have realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. No one can expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event.

* Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If you've always invited 15-20 people to your home, consider inviting five for a simple meal. Consider having a potluck dinner or asking others to host the holiday at their home.

* Familiarize others with your situation by writing a letter that explains and prepares family and friends for the changes in your person.


Involve the person with dementia

* Involve the person in safe, manageable holiday preparation activities. Begin slowly by asking the person to help you prepare food, wrap packages, hand you decorations, or set the table. (Avoid using candies, artificial fruits/vegetables, or other edibles as decorations. Blinking lights may confuse or scare the person.)

* Maintain the person's normal routine so that holiday preparations don't become disruptive or confusing. Taking on too many tasks can wear on you and the person.

* Build on past traditions and memories. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs, for example. But also experiment with new holiday traditions, such as renting seasonal videos.


Adapt gift giving

* Encourage people to buy useful gifts for the person such as an identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert� + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return�); comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing; audiotapes of favorite music; videos; and photo albums.

* Advise people not to give gifts such as dangerous tools or instruments, utensils, challenging board games, complicated electronic equipment, or pets.

* Depending on his or her abilities, get the person involved in giving gifts. For example, someone who once enjoyed cooking may enjoy baking cookies and packing them in tins or boxes. Or, you may want to buy the gift and allow the person to wrap it.

* If friends or family members ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you out as you care for your loved one, like a cleaning or household chore service.


Try to be flexible

* Consider celebrating over a lunch or brunch, rather than an evening meal, to work around the evening confusion or sundowning that sometimes affects some people with Alzheimer's. Also consider serving non-alcoholic drinks and keeping the room bright.

* Prepare for post-holiday letdown. Arrange for in-home care so you can enjoy a movie or lunch with a friend and reduce post-holiday stress.

* Holidays are opportunities to share time with the people you love. Try to make these celebrations easy on yourself and the person with Alzheimer's disease so that you may concentrate on enjoying your time together.

Surviving and Enjoying the Holiday as a Dementia Caregiver...
Tips for the Season

10 signs logoJoin us in December for this hour-long program which addresses the feelings, challenges, expectations, and exhaustions brought on by our traditional celebrations of the holidays, and offers caregivers some alternativies designed to maintain safety, familiarity, comfort and inclusion for their loved ones and themselves. Join us as we talk about ways to make your holiday celebrations more successful and enjoyable.

Click here for dates and locations in our area...


Late Stage Alzheimer's Information Series in Lansing

The final program in this series - End of Life and Hospice - is being offered in Lansing on
December 12 at Hospice of Lansing.  For more information, please click here or to register call 800.272.3900. 

Creating Confident Caregivers is a special grant-funded program for families caring for someone with memory loss.  Regional Area Agencies on Aging along with community partners are offering these series, a university-tested program designed to increase caregiver skills, knowledge, and outlook.  These classes are free, and respite is available at no cost.  


Tri-County Lansing area (two different classes): 
January 10 - February 14 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM

or January 16 - February 20 from 6:30 - 8:30  PM

Locations to be determined

Call for more information/register at 517-887-1447


March 6-April 10 from 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Frenchtown Senior Center,
2786 Vivian Rd. 

Call for more information/register at 800-852-7795



SAVE THE DATE!  Schreiber Conference  ~  April 13-14, 2012

Alzheimer's Disease - The Heart of the Matter
Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center, Kalamazoo
Guest Keynote:  Mary Ellen Geist, author of "Measure of the Heart"


Thanks for attending

Advances in Alzheimer's Research 

10 signs logoThroughout the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter, our annual Advances in Alzheimer's Research Nights were held last month.  We were updated and educated on the most current happenings in the Alzheimer's disease research both globally and locally.  The chapter is fortunate to have Dr. Bruno Giordani who presented as keynote speaker with research colleagues joining him for two of the Chapter's events.  

He was joined in Ann Arbor by Dr. Judith Heidebrink, Associate Professor, UM Department of Neurology and Dr. Sara Weisenbach, Clinical Lecturer, UM Department of Psychiatry.   Hirosha Geekiyanage, PhD candidate and Jamie Rivard, RN,BSN with CoSAGE from MSU Alzheimer's research team joined him in East Lansing.  Thank you to all who spoke, volunteered, attended, and supported our research nights!


For more information on reseach, please visit www.alz.org/research




Public Policy

Alzheimer's Charity Tax Check-Off Legislation

Help us end 2011 with a win for families struggling with dementia by asking the Michigan House of Representatives to pass the Alzheimer's Charity Tax Check-Off Legislation. Email House Tax Policy Committee Chair, Representative Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac), at JudGilbert@house.mi.gov and ask him to take up House Bills 4518 and 4519 / Senate Bills 324 and 325 in committee. There are thousands of Michigan families struggling through this disease, and they need help today. 


Silver Alert Legislation

Silver Alert Legislation has passed in the Michigan State Senate. The legislation is now in the House Family, Children and Seniors Committee. You can contact the committee chairman State Representative Ken Kurtz today and ask that he take up Senate Bill 466 in committee. This legislation will create The Mozelle Senior Medical Alert Act. Representative Kurtz can be reached at kennethkurtz@house.mi.gov or 517-373-1794. 



Walk to End Alzheimer's

     What an amazing Walk season!  We raised almost $477,000,
 but we are continuing the fight...



Ann Arbor   |  Brighton  |  Calhoun County  |  Fremont 

Jackson  |   Kalamazoo  |  Lansing  |  Lenawee County 

Ludington  |   Muskegon  |   St. Joseph




We want to thank our top Walk to End Alzheimer's
Sponsors and Champion Teams:





  Indy Village logo 






 Consumers Credit Union     lloydganton 

 The Willows  Woodland Terrace



BCBSM    Chalgian 


Muskegon Hope Riders Comfort Keepers    highlandalzheimerscare

Hillside Terraceholtseniorcare     

 vistagrande     seniorhelpers


Arcadia Home Care and Staffing  �  Area Agency on Aging, Region 3B

Bickford Assisted Living and Memory Care

Bronson Lakeview Hospital  �  Burcham Hills Retirement Community

Carol Walker, A Place for Mom  �  Christian Care

Cypress Home Care, Inc  �  Dimondale Nursing Care Center

Capital Area Health & Rehabilitation Center

Gerdau Special Steel North America  �  Grand Ledge Country Club

Heritage Media/Ann Arbor Journal

Homewatch Caregivers  �  HOMTV/CAMTV

Ludington Daily News  �  NorthPointe Woods

Ridgecrest Health Campus  �  Sanctuary at St. Joseph's Village

Sigma Kappa  �  The Legacy at the Oaks

The Reflections Assisted Living & Memory Care

Trinity Senior Living Communities  �  United Senior Resources


Chapter Job Posting

Fund Development Coordinator, Capital Area Region


The Alzheimer's Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter is looking for a dynamic person to fill the Fund Development Coordinator position in Lansing. This person will be responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating the Chapter's development strategic plan in the Capital Area region, including the Walk to End Alzheimer's. The coordinator will also be responsible for developing and supporting volunteer leadership in these areas. This is a 30 hour/week position.  Click here to view the full job description.  Interested applicants are encouraged to send a resume to Beth Peck at beth.peck@alz.org

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