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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: August 21, 2012


NEW CASTLE (Aug. 21, 2012) - Building on the Alzheimer's Association's commitment to provide public platforms for those directly affected by Alzheimer's disease, the Association's Delaware Valley Chapter will host a town hall from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, to discuss the nation's first National Alzheimer's Plan and its implementation.

The town hall, hosted in partnership with the Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, will be at the John H. Ammon Education Center Auditorium at Christiana Hospital, 4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, near Newark.

Because seating is limited, registration is required. Please RSVP by calling the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900 or by visiting

On May 15, the National Alzheimer's Plan -- the first national strategic plan to deal with the growing numbers of Americans who have Alzheimer's or are expected to be diagnosed with the fatal disease - was released. As many as 5.4 million Americans, including 26,000 Delawareans are living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, the U.S. number could nearly triple to as many as 16 million individuals.

"Caring for these individuals will cost the country more than $1 trillion annually, creating an enormous strain on the health care system, families and federal and state budgets," said Katie E. Macklin, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter. "This town hall will help advance a critically important dialogue of how best to change the trajectory of this disease. This public event offers the opportunity for members of the Delaware community to share their personal perspectives on what is needed in order to best capitalize on the historic release of the National Alzheimer's Plan, as well as to discuss what needs to be done at the state level to insure that Delaware is a dementia-capable state."

One of the major goals of the National Alzheimer's Plan is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025. Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and behavior. Individuals with Alzheimer's eventually lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

Most people survive an average of eight years after diagnosis. However, some individuals can live with Alzheimer's for as many as 20 years, placing increasingly intensive care demands on caregivers and negatively affecting their health, employment, income and financial security. As the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer's disease is the only cause among the top 10 without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

"It is extremely important that caregivers and others directly impacted by Alzheimer's disease have opportunities such as this town hall meeting to share their stories, concerns, and valuable experiences as part of our efforts to more effectively address their needs," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. "This is a major opportunity to get input as to what is needed in Delaware as we begin our work in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association to develop a comprehensive plan to address Alzheimer's disease."

As part of the national plan, the federal Administration on Aging will work with state governments to develop dementia-capable long-term services and supports for caregivers.

The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's is increasing age. Most people diagnosed with the disease are 65 or older. Another risk factor is family history. Researchers have found that there may also be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer's, especially when trauma occurs repeatedly or involves loss of consciousness. Other strong links are high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

To find aging and disability services in Delaware, contact the Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center at (800) 223-9074 weekdays from 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Staff members can provide personalized assistance to help families find and use community services. The resource center's website,, helps people to search by county for health services, adult day care, assisted living, caregiver support services, financial assistance, physical therapy, and transportation. A free comprehensive resource, "Guide to Services for Older Delawareans and Persons with Disabilities" is offered through the website or by calling the center.

For more information on the National Alzheimer's Plan, go to, or contact the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter at (800) 272-3900.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.