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 The Harry Johns Interview (Page 3 of 5)

We are getting information on the kinds of testing that might not only determine people who have the disease at an earlier stage, but may well speed the development of drugs by being able to track the disease as we cannot really do today.

Gary Barg: Can you tell me why people should get involved in the Alzheimer’s Walk in their communities.

Harry Johns: I think is really important to the cause for, again, policy makers and the public to recognize the real impact of Alzheimer’s disease. And by coming out to participate in the walk, it is not just about fundraising; it is really about mobilizing the passion that surrounds this disease in the community, and to illustrate that by a public turnout in the thousands. We can indicate to those we need to convince that the public really believes we need to do more about this disease. Through the Alzheimer’s Association, of course, but also through new legislation and greater support for research and greater support for caregivers themselves who today just do not have the kinds of support that they need fully. Even given all the great things we do in our chapters, people need additional help and support; research dollars are dropping. Engaging in the Memory Walks and in the cause itself with the Alzheimer’s Association can make a huge difference.

Gary Barg: And what could a caregiver get out of becoming a chapter member in their community? What kind of support? What kind of advice? What kind of care do they get?

Harry Johns: Our chapters do a great job at providing first care consultation at the point at which someone is originally encountering questions about the disease—through our help line and in chapters. There is the potential to be engaged in Safe Return. We do a great job at helping to find people if they wander. As you know, 60 percent of them ultimately will. We have, to date, found 99 percent of the people who are enrolled in Safe Return.

Gary Barg: Tell me more about Safe Return.

Harry Johns: Safe Return is an approach to identifying people so that when they wander, they can be quickly found. Our chapters have done a great job across the country, working with law enforcement, training law enforcement on how to handle the situations, and ultimately finding them. Our partnership with Medic Alert goes to another step. Often times when people are found, they need immediate medical care.

Gary Barg: You know, we have had a lot of the celebrities in your Alzheimer’s Champions campaign on the cover of Today’s Caregiver, and even at our Fearless Caregiver Conferences. I always find that when you have a room filled with family caregivers and a celebrity who is also a family caregiver, all you have is a room of caregivers. Their caregiving seems to be the great equalizer. I was wondering what success and what you are seeing out of your Champion’s campaign and what you hear from people about that – the campaign that you have using the celebrities.

 

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