By Alzheimer’s Association San Diego
There are more than 60,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia in San Diego and Imperial counties. Add to that the number of family members and other caregivers who face the daily challenges of helping those with the disease, and the number surpasses 180,000. These are the people the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego /Imperial Chapter serves, but not only them.
While it is hard to firmly establish the number of Alzheimer’s and dementia cases in San Diego’s LGBT community, there is no doubt that this is a proportionately hard-hit community where more people live alone and are less likely to have the extended family support upon which people with the disease frequently depend. It is imperative that the vital resources provided by the Alzheimer’s Association be taken advantage of.
For the thousands of people who have or will have Alzheimer’s but have yet to show symptoms, the association’s services will be critical to enhancing their quality of life, and if we are successful, have contributed to the ultimate goal of finding a cure.
The services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association encompass a wide range of activities in our community, including in-person care consultations; support groups both in-person and by telephone; safety programs; and education programs in both English and Spanish, both online and in person, on topics such as diagnosis, warning signs, communication, living with Alzheimer’s disease, and caregiving techniques.
Outreach to diverse communities includes the Promotora program focusing on Latino families and individuals that may be unaware of our services, as well as special programs and education in the LGBT community (which we will discuss in detail further).
As we are living longer and witnessing the rise in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, Alzheimer’s has joined cancer atop a list of top medical concerns among all Americans. With no known cure, research becomes a critical component of the national focus of the Alzheimer’s Association.
At the forefront of research into Alzheimer’s disease, our region receives more funds in the effort to find a cure than any other region in the country. $12.3 million of current funding from the Alzheimer’s Association has made San Diego a pivotal center of activity.
The Alzheimer’s Association also recruits advocates in the community so that the need for Alzheimer’s care, education and research is heard at every level of government. This has helped to pass landmark legislation, and ultimately, funding.
In coming issues of Gay San Diego, we will share information helpful to those who may be concerned about the disease, who may be fighting the symptoms of dementia, caregivers to those who may be living with the disease, or to other caring family and friends. This information is culled from our numerous educational classes offered every week somewhere in San Diego.
Though the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego/Imperial Chapter’s purview covers 9,000 square miles, the office is centrally located, likely within a few minutes’ drive of most of those reading this now.
If you have any questions about Alzheimer’s, visit the association’s website, alz.org/sandiego, call the 24/7 telephone help line (800-272-3900), or just stop by weekdays at the chapter office, 5075 Shoreham Place, Suite 240.
—Since 1982, the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego-Imperial Chapter has been providing free educational programs and support services to our neighbors throughout our community who are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and to their care partners. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading nonprofit organization funding dementia research, providing care and support, raising the public’s awareness of the disease and rallying our elected officials to advance public policies to better the lived of the families that we serve.