Alzheimer's Orange County Celebrates 35 Years 5

AOC continues to excel in support and care of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their caregivers

Alzheimer’s Orange County’s Mission

Alzheimer’s Orange County (AOC), formerly associated with Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter, has been providing programs and services for Orange County residents battling Alzheimer’s and dementia for 35 years.

With more than 84,000 people affected by Alzheimer’s in Orange County, the disease is the county’s #3 cause of death. The irreversible, progressive brain disorder typically begins in adults 65 and older, beginning with short-term memory loss. As the disease advances, greater memory loss and cognitive dysfunction occur, including behavioral changes. Late-stage Alzheimer’s typically results in patients being bedridden, as the body ceases to function. Around-the-clock care is needed and often a spouse, loved one, or family member is the full-time caregiver.

To give you an idea of AOC’s impact, the following details the nonprofit’s work in 2016:

• AOC took over operations of South County Adult Day Services in Laguna Woods to provide social and healthcare programs to seniors and individuals affected by dementia and their caregivers. In April, 2017, it merged with Acacia Adult Day Services in Garden Grove to provide support services in north county as well. • Nearly 500 free community education Dementia Care events were held for 25,453 people to be better caregivers. • Telephone hotline serviced 6,750 residents. • Forty support groups provided comfort and hope to 4,286 caregivers. • Personalized family consultations by expert social workers were provided for 1,840 people facing decisions and challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. • Early memory loss programs were provided for 1,377 people and their families to build a social network. • Nearly 400 individuals experiencing memory loss participated in the Memories in the Making® program by creating beautiful works of art. • Engaged with 289 locally elected officials to garner support for Alzheimer’s-related bills. Also traveled to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to advocate for the cause. • Contacted local research companies and the university system to educate the community on the importance of clinical trials for the advancement of Alzheimer’s science. • Communicated with local physicians through 5,673 calls to educate them on available resources and how to better treat and diagnose the disease.

AOC Fundraising

During October and November, 2017, AOC will host three “Walk4ALZ” walk-a-thons in Orange County, including events in Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Angel Stadium in Anaheim. AOC’s CEO Jim McAleer says of “Walk4ALZ:”

“It is our premier fundraiser, with 100% of the money raised staying in Orange County to support a host of in-person programs for people with memory loss and their caregivers.”

Fundraising events in 2017 included the 19th Annual “Care Support Cure” gala held in March, which honored major individual and business donors, science partners and volunteers. The gala’s special guest, Kim Campbell, wife of legendary country music star and Alzheimer’s patient Glen Campbell, spoke about her role as caregiver. And, the nonprofit’s Visionary Women Circle held its 11th Annual Caregivers Luncheon in May to honor extraordinary caregivers.

Some AOC Caregivers’ Stories

In March, 2011, after two years of symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Orange County resident Sybela Moreno was given an official Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She and her husband Roberto shed tears that day. However, Roberto quickly took action to learn more about the disease and how to best function as his wife’s primary caregiver.

Lynda Fleischman, another Orange County resident, also managed symptoms of MCI before her Alzheimer’s diagnosis four years ago. As the primary caregiver, her husband Larry looked at utilizing local services and support groups. It took two years to find the organization.

Alzheimer’s OC was that organization. The nonprofit’s Connect 2 Culture events are especially recommended by Roberto. It is a program that allows patients and caregivers the opportunity to attend various educational and entertaining events and a time to socialize with others.

“I don’t know what we would have done without AOC,” says Roberto. “The programs and support they offer continue to lift Sybela’s spirits.”

Larry has likened his experience to having a second family. Meeting and socializing with others who are in the same situation has provided comfort and understanding.

“The socialization aspect of programs like Connect 2 Culture helps Lynda and I tremendously,” Larry says. “I’m also grateful for the Savvy Caregiver and the Compassionate Communication classes. The education and heartfelt support from the Alzheimer’s OC staff have been tremendously uplifting and helpful to Lynda and me.”

To learn more about Alzheimer’s OC, visit ALZOC.org.