In Minnesota, 89,000 people age 65+ live with Alzheimer’s disease and the number is growing. And, 245,000 Minnesotans are caring for family members with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Professionally, MAAA is active on many fronts in addressing the impacts of Alzheimer’s and in supporting the older adults, families, and friends touched by the disease. As an advisor to metro communities working to become dementia friendly, MAAA consults with and assists the communities in implementing a four-phase Dementia Friendly Communities Toolkit developed by ACT on Alzheimer’s. MAAA also helps communities integrate health care and community services to improve care coordination for people with dementia and their caregivers. Calls to the Senior Linkage Line® about memory loss issues result in connections to supportive resources. Dawn Simonson, MAAA Executive Director, said, “Older adults count on MAAA to engage in meaningful partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Association and other fine non-profit aging services providers in our community to maximize resources and pursue innovation that helps people live safely and securely in their communities.”
Personal connections are also part of MAAA’s work with Alzheimer’s. In late September, 2015, more than 25 MAAA staff and their family members participated in the Alzheimer Association’s “Twin Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” The MAAA team raised more than $2,000. Hannah Fox and Rachel Von Ruden were staff organizers for the Alzheimer’s walk. Rachel noted, “I wanted to be involved in the walk because my grandmother has dementia, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating financial and emotional effects of the disease.” Hannah’s family has been affected by Alzheimer’s, too, and the walk was a great opportunity to show support. In her words,“It was powerful to hear firsthand from individuals with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, and those who have lost a loved one. It was empowering to be surrounded by so many people all supporting the same cause.”
Many MAAA staff members have been trained as volunteer Dementia Friends and Champions, which touches the workplace as well as the neighborhoods where staff live. Addressing the impacts of Alzheimer’s is an ongoing issue for all communities, and MAAA will continue to be a working partner and advocate for older adults living with dementia and their caregivers.