Raising Alzheimer’s Awareness Every Day

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Not being able to remember your own life or recognize your loved ones is a truly heartbreaking way to go from day to day. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness that affects and destroys memory and other mental functions, and while there are treatment options, there is unfortunately, still no cure. The Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center (ADRC) is an organization with a continued mission to support research that may lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, to provide care, support and education programs for families in need, and to be advocates for local families who are coping with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Mary Ann Malack-Ragona serves as the executive director and CEO of ADRC and she is responsible for quite a bit of what goes on at the center.

“Everything that entails implementing the entire operation of the organization from financial aspects, grants, marketing and advertising to our programs which include art, music and equine therapy as well as support groups, that’s where I come in,” said Ragona, who has been with the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center since 2003. “The equine program out at Spirit’s Promise in Riverhead really lights up the faces of people with this disease and I hope it goes on in perpetuity.”

In the 15 years she has been with the organization, she believes that while research for Alzheimer’s has come very far, there is still a long road to be traveled.

“There is a huge belief that uncontrolled diabetes leads to memory loss and is a cause for Alzheimer’s disease as it progress,” said Ragona. “I had an opportunity to visit with
the New York Stem Cell Foundation in Manhattan and they’re doing exciting and meaningful work in the world of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. We believe at some point, their work will slow down or cure Alzheimer’s Disease.”

The ADRC is also very big on education, with an understanding that individuals hired to take care of people with Alzheimer’s, do not always have the skills to do so correctly. According to Ragona, the ADRC has developed programs that bring new knowledge into the hands of physicians and informal caregivers.

“Family caregivers who couldn’t get out or be part of an information group about programs and services can now find everything under one roof,” she said of the ADRC’s conference expo that featured 81 vendors covering the entire continuum of care for Alzheimer’s. “Attorneys, doctors who make house calls, home companion services, certified home health agencies, the VA for veterans’ benefits and assisted living, it’s all available information and so much can be accomplished at this event.”

The ADRC runs six support groups out of the Bay Shore office and is affiliated with 35 supports groups across Nassau and Suffolk County. The organization also has several satellite offices for those who are unable to travel.

The ADRC’s East End Walk for Alzheimer’s and Fall Festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.

For more information on ADRC, as well as upcoming events, call 631-580-5100 or visit www.adrcinc.org.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center is located at 45 Park Ave., Bay Shore, NY.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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