Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Help for What's Ahead

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Help for What's Ahead

Article excerpt

The impact of Alzheimer's disease is generating discussion in Trenton with the recent release of a state task force report that attempts to shine more light on the struggles faced by couples such as Al and Fran Davis of Fair Lawn.

The husband and wife are both 93, and she has largely taken care of him on her own since he was diagnosed with the disease eight years ago. They value their independence. But the decision they made long ago to remain living in their home has become a source of worry.

Fran Davis is ruminating on the "what ifs." What if her husband starts to need more care than she can provide or that they can afford? What if her health fails or she has to stop driving?

"At this point, it's a little scary because you don't know what's going to happen," Fran Davis said recently. "Right now, I still drive and my health is good. But I don't know what's ahead."

Helping caregivers navigate the long, curve-filled road of Alzheimer's remains a front-and-center goal of local advocates as they try to reshape their family support efforts in New Jersey.

Last December, the northern New Jersey chapter of the Alzheimer's Association split off into its own organization, called Alzheimer's New Jersey. The split occurred because local leaders wanted to ensure money raised locally by the chapter would be spent in New Jersey.

After the defection, the Alzheimer's Association decided to begin a new northern New Jersey chapter, opening an office in Totowa in March and organizing four fundraising walks throughout the state in locations near where Alzheimer's New Jersey already had walks planned.

Hundreds of North Jersey residents are expected today at a Walk to End Alzheimer's fundraiser organized by the North Jersey chapter of the national group today at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park.

Next weekend -- Sunday, Oct. 30 -- thousands more will participate in the Walk to Fight Alzheimer's, the event leaders of Alzheimer's New Jersey are planning at Bergen Community College in Paramus.

Kenneth Zaentz, president of Alzheimer's New Jersey, said some of the group's supporters were confused by the two sets of walks. "There were people who thought they had signed up for a walk with us who had actually signed up for a walk with them," Zaentz said. …

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