A Word From Our Executive Director – Putting Donor Dollars to Good Use

October 2, 2015

Dear Friends,

You can tell it is fall at the Miami Valley Chapter when you see the flurry of activity throughout the office.  First Steps education programs are being conducted throughout our service area and Walk to End Alzheimer’s® season is in full swing.  This season, in particular, I am reminded of the generosity of so many who allow us to steward our mission.  Included are some highlights from the last six months.

This year the Miami Valley Chapter brought together its charter Medical Scientific Advisory Council charged with addressing and meeting the dementia-specific needs of our diverse clinical, academic and research communities.  This group includes representation from both major health network providers in the Miami Valley including researchers, physicians and other healthcare professionals.  Through this collaboration, we can begin to discuss increased educational opportunities, compassionate treatment of those with dementia, and increased participation in clinical trials.

The Alzheimer’s Association celebrated a victory on Capitol Hill in June.  Both the house and the senate proposed a $300 million and $350 million increase respectively in Alzheimer’s research funding.  This represents a 50% increase from the previous year.  Thank you to the many local advocates who sent emails, letters, and conducted personal visits with local, state and national representatives.

We thank Dennis Stauffer and Vickie Carraher for their dedicated service to the Miami Valley Chapter Board of Directors.  We look forward to their continued involvement for years to come.  As we transition into 2016, we will welcome new members onto the Board.

Held in Washington, DC, July 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference unveiled the latest in Alzheimer’s research.  Scientists are working on new tests to help predict Alzheimer’s disease years before people ever get symptoms — to help them plan for the inevitable but also in the hope that experimental treatments might work better the earlier they are used. New evidence also suggests that women’s brains are especially vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease and other problems with memory and thinking. Women with mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, tend to decline faster than men.  If interested, I would be happy to meet with you personally to share updates from the 2015 international conference!

This Fall I have the privilege of leading an “Ask the Expert” education program where families are invited to an hour with me to ask any question about Alzheimer’s care and research.   The audience asked questions about diagnosis, differentiating between dementia and Alzheimer’s, the genetics of Alzheimer’s, and “cures” often seen on the internet.  One family found the information helpful and is preparing to invite his siblings back to the next session so they can hear the information together to better care for their father.  Another woman, who listened with tears in her eyes, learned that her mom is not doing things on purpose, but that the disease causes different behaviors.  The program’s beauty stems from meeting people’s needs directly with others in a similar situation.  I heard from several families who assumed they were the only ones dealing with this disease before attending.  Though offered in a group setting, by understanding the questions being asked I can connect them directly to our services or community resources for further assistance.  What a great opportunity to advance our mission!

The impact of our work is profound and ensuring accessibility to information, education and support to all those affected by Alzheimer’s is paramount to our mission.  Your help and support to make this happen continues to be critical to our work and success.

Thank you,

Eric VanVlymen_Signature

Eric VanVlymen

Executive Director

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