Columbia Men’s Group Celebrates 10th Anniversary!

In 2004, we used funds from a Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging grant to survey a group of men who were receiving respite funds while caring for women with dementia.  The primary focus of the survey was to determine how we could help them become more effective caregivers. The responses all indicated a need for more education and a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. In August of that year, we formed a special group designed to provide caregiver education with a male perspective.

Pam Richmond, care consultant for the Greater Missouri Chapter, has served as the group’s facilitator since 2006. When she recently notified former and current members about the upcoming anniversary, she invited them to share some of the reasons they joined the group.

Herb Griggs, one of the original members, replied that when he first moved to Columbia from St. Louis, one of his first stops was the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter office. “My wife had Alzheimer’s, and I wanted to get coping strategies and all of the support I could.”

He felt that attending monthly group meetings provided much-needed support and friendships. “The exchange of information made my life much easier,” added Griggs. “I have very warm feelings for my old friends on staff and in the men’s group, and I wish them good health and much success in the future.”

Another member, David Waugh, got involved because he wanted to find out how other men were handling the stress of caregiving. “The guest speakers, especially the physicians who talk about medical issues, have been outstanding,” he said. “I have gained such interesting insight into the disease from the other members. It is probably the best support group to which I have ever belonged.”

Doc Isom heard about the group word-of-mouth at the Bluffs in Columbia. “I joined so I could learn how to be a better caregiver,” he wrote. “I received valuable information, and learned how it affected everyone differently.”

 A friend encouraged Bill Maness to attend. “Ted Distler’s wife also had Alzheimer’s, and he knew that the group could benefit me,” said Bill. “Just knowing that other men are having the same experiences allowed me to share my feelings and frustrations.”

When asked about the group’s early days, Joetta Coen, program director for the Greater Missouri Chapter, said, “Even though this group started as a way to provide caregiver education, the mutual support and friendships were a natural outcome and an obvious benefit.” 

Known as Men Emerging as Caregivers, the group will celebrate their 10th anniversary on Thursday, August 21, 1:00 pm, at the Alzheimer’s Association office, 2400 Bluff Creek Drive in Columbia. To find out more about this group, or to find a support group near you, click HERE or call 573.443.8665.

Sigma Kappa National Convention 2014

As the plane landed into what seemed like an ominous desert, as soon as I saw the bright lights of The Strip, I knew Sigma Kappa National Convention has begun.

When arriving at Green Valley Ranch Resort, where we were staying, we were shocked by how beautiful and large this place was. With a pool, casino, food court, large business meetings, ballrooms, and so much more, we expected convention to be a blast. What we didn’t expect though was how much we were going to get out of it.

Sitting in a large business meeting while everyone was practicing Sigma Kappa ritual was a truly unique experience.

President Kara, left, and VPF Olivia, right, with our CPO, Katy, center, and our two corporation board awards!

Listening to alumna speak during breakout sessions about what they were passionate about through Sigma Kappa, showed that Sigma Kappa really does prepare you for the “Real World” ahead.

Kara, President, Olivia, VPF, and Emmi, VPM, with our award for raising the most money out of any Sigma Kappa chapter for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Attending banquets each night to honor fellow sisters, signified competition only brought out the best between us.

At these banquets Epsilon Mu was lucky enough to win several awards. The first was for raising the most money out of any Sigma Kappa chapter for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The next two were for outstanding corporations boards, one of which was the Barbara Fentor’s award for the best corporation board. All these awards truly showed that the success of Epsilon Mu was a group effort, and could not have been done without the work of both collegians and alumna.

Meeting Sigma Kappa’s from across the country and finding common bonds proved that common values really do connect people from far and near.

Before we knew it Sigma Kappa Convention was over, and we were back flying over the ominous desert again. However, I will definitely be back for the next national convention of 2016 in CHICAGO!

Kara Simon, President

Peter and Amy Hernandez donate $10,000 to Alzheimer’s Association

Peter and Amy Hernandez presented a $10,000 check to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter last Friday night at their La Roca Dance Studio in Osage Beach. The money was collected through sponsorships and ticket sales from the Forget Me Not Ball, a black-tie event which included a gourmet dinner at Tan-Tar-A Resort and featured a dance showcase by Missouri Professionals and former members of the Dancing With The Stars dance troop, Kiki Nyemchek and Magda Fialek.

 “We’ve always wanted to promote dancing for better health and happiness,” said Amy Hernandez, dancer and owner, La Roca Dance Studio. “We thought it made perfect sense to host a fundraiser that combines our love of dancing with our passion to end Alzheimer’s disease.”

 As an added bonus to this year’s event, Peter and Amy hosted a casual dance social with buffet on Friday night at their studio, and a Saturday breakfast followed by three dance workshops.  

 “The Forget Me Not Ball is such an elegant event and we are so grateful that Peter and Amy host this annual event to help create awareness of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Linda Newkirk, executive director, Greater Missouri Chapter. “We appreciate their generosity, hard work and dedication.  We also want to thank the sponsors and guests who made the event a big success.”  

Sponsors included the Benne Media: Business Journal, Classic Hits Cool 102.7, KS95, and Mix 92.7; Lake Media: Lake Lifestyles Magazine, The Lake Sun Newspaper, Vacation News; LO Profile Magazine; Mills & Sons Insurance; US Resort Management; Sugar and Spice Bakery and Catering; Tan-Tar-A Resort;  Central Bank of Lake of the Ozarks; Walgreens; Jim & Maureen Green; Dennis & Agena Robinson; Jim & Rue Fleming.

Alzheimer’s ambassador believes there is HOPE for Alzheimer’s research

Call me old-fashioned. I still believe America is one nation under God working in unity to meet the challenges we face. Alzheimer’s disease is one of those worthy challenges!

A few weeks ago, I was honored to attend the 26th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. Forum as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador and member of the Greater Missouri Chapter delegation. More than 800 of us – people living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, advocates and ambassadors – gathered at the Capitol to ask Congress to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, including 110,000 here in Missouri.

Today, there are 15.5 million Americans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, including 304,000 here in Missouri.

As an Alzheimer’s advocate, I count it a privilege to serve as an ambassador to Senator Roy Blunt and fulfill the responsibility as a constituent in his district to advocate for support and resources to stamp out the disease.

My husband, David Johnson, died at age 68 from Alzheimer’s disease. I was his primary caregiver. He was diagnosed with dementia in 1999, and in 2007, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For 33 years, he was an engineer managing road and bridge construction. He was a great husband and father to Mark and Chelsea.

As his primary caregiver in the final three years of his life, we were nearly devastated physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. With the loss of his mental faculties came the loss of our freedom and doing all the things we loved to do. In the last four months of his life, David had difficulty even recognizing the people he loved. His lost his courageous battle with Alzheimer’s on April 30, 2012.

In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive condition in the nation, costing $214 billion a year. Nearly $1 in every $5 spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

If we could eliminate Alzheimer’s tomorrow, we could save half a million lives every year. It is only through adequate funding and a strong implementation of the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease that we will meet its goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

We are asking senators and representatives to co-sponsor the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which will improve care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers by improving access to diagnosis, providing care planning services and ensuring that a diagnosis is documented in the medical record.

I urge you to call Senator Blunt and ask him to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority.

To learn more, visit

Betty T. Johnson


Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter

Alzheimer’s advocates share their stories at Advocacy Forum

Linda Fisher is making her voice heard at the Advocacy Forum in Washington, April 7-9. As a Greater Missouri Chapter ambassador, she has a personal story to share-her husband lost his battle to Alzheimer’s disease in 2005. Over the past fifteen years, Fisher has served as a caregiver, support group leader, Walk chair, board member, ambassador and has advocated at the state and national level. “I have a passion to increase funding for research,” she said. “It’s time to end Alzheimer’s.”

 Fisher, a Sedalia resident, is just one member of the outstanding delegation representing the Greater Missouri Chapter at this year’s Advocacy Forum. She’ll be joined by her sister, Roberta Fischer of Cole Camp, Betty T. Johnson of Springfield, and Marcia Rauwerdwink of Nixa.

For the past 15 years, Roberta Fischer has been a member of her sister’s walk team at the Sedalia Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “She got involved with the Walk while she was a part-time caregiver for my husband,” said Linda. “And now she leads my team’s fundraising efforts. I would be lost without her.” In addition to participating in district visits with her legislators, this will be Fischer’s third trip to the Forum.

Betty T. Johnson serves as a Chapter ambassador to Senator Roy Blunt and this is her first trip to the Forum. She became involved with the Chapter several years ago when her husband David was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He lost his battle at the age 68, but Johnson is committed to changing the course of this disease. She is a wonderful spokesperson for our Chapter and was featured on a video with her late husband at a Gala fundraiser in Springfield.

As a member of the Public Policy Committee, Marcia Rauwerdink is a passionate advocate for our Mission. She witnessed her Mother battle Alzheimer’s disease and knows the devastating effect is has on a family. Rauwerdink has been an ambassador to Congressman Billy Long since the inception of the Ambassador Program three years ago. She was successful in securing Congressman Long as a co-sponsor for the HOPE Act. He is the only legislator from Missouri, and one of the first Republicans, who has signed the bill. This will be her third year attending the Advocacy Forum.

They will join the more than 800 people with the disease, caregivers and fellow advocates from across the nation to appeal to their members of Congress for action on Alzheimer’s disease. While on Capitol Hill, advocates will share their personal stories with legislators and request that adequate research funding be allocated for Alzheimer’s disease.  

This year’s Forum comes on the heels of an unprecedented $122 million in additional Alzheimer’s funding, the largest-ever increase for Alzheimer’s research and care programs, in the FY14 budget. The Alzheimer’s Association and its advocates look forward to working with Congress again this year to ensure Alzheimer’s funding continues to build toward the necessary levels to achieve the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease - preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number is poised to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. In 2013, 15.5 million friends and family members endured the significant emotional, physical and financial challenges of caregiving for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

In addition to the human toll of the disease, care for Alzheimer’s, the country’s most expensive condition, costs the nation $214 billion annually with projections to reach $1.2 trillion by 2050.

For more about the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, visit

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. 

Share Your Story…

We know that early and accurate diagnosis leads to better outcomes and higher quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. Yet, the federal government has said there is insufficient evidence that a diagnostic test called ‘brain amyloid imaging’ improves health outcomes. 

Thankfully the decision is not yet final. Make your voice heard if you have had firsthand experience with dementia diagnosis and care, for yourself or a loved one. If you and your family experienced challenges in obtaining a diagnosis, or if an accurate diagnosis has allowed you and your family to better plan and manage the disease, please share your experience.

Your story could make a big difference in the future of how Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed and treated. We can’t afford to postpone important tools that are ready to help doctors provide better Alzheimer’s care today.

Please, share your story and forward this message along to others who might be able to help. 

Half of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s have never received a formal diagnosis. Help us make a change today! Thank you!

Caregiver Tip: Summer Safety

Summer is almost here and as the weather warms up, families increase their activity both indoors and out. If you are a family facing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you don’t have to stop participating in meaningful summer activities — but you should plan ahead to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone. 

Take these steps to help you prepare:

·  Create a plan to meet your needs. Families who are unsure of potential safety issues should visit the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Navigator™; an interactive online tool that asks a series of questions in order to deliver a customized action plan and links to information, support and local rescources.

·  Evaluate your environment. Identify possible areas of danger in the home or outdoors that could cause injury to the person living with the disease.

·  Reduce the risk of wandering. Anyone who has memory problems is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stage of dementia, a person can become disoriented in a familiar place. Enroll the person with dementia in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.

·  Learn more. To learn more about these services, visit our safety center.

"Advocates are like avocados" David Hyde Pierce

For 25 years, Alzheimer’s advocates have lifted their voices for millions of Americans in Washington, D.C., at the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum and helped achieve real policy change. The 2013 Forum’s opening session, Winning the Fight: Celebrating 25 Years of Alzheimer’s Advocacy, paid tribute to the past while rallying attendees to continue the momentum.

Actor, Alzheimer’s Champion and longtime advocate David Hyde Pierce, honorary chair of the 2013 Forum, welcomed attendees, receiving a standing ovation when introduced. He set a memorably appetizing tone.

"I love the word ‘advocate’ because the Spanish word for ‘advocate’ is ‘abogado,’ and ‘abogado’ sounds like ‘avocado,’" Pierce said. "Avocados are like Alzheimer’s advocates — because they are irresistible and they have big nuts."

Once the laughter and applause died down, he added, “If you’re going to come to Washington in the middle of sequestration and ask for funding, you better have both.”

Pierce gave attendees a brief history of the Association and the creation of the Advocacy Forum and wished Association founder Jerry Stone a happy 100th birthday. “My notes say that Jerry can’t be with us today, but that is flatly untrue,” he said. “Jerry has been with us every day since the first day, and he will be walking with you every moment that you’re here. Frankly, it will take every one of us to fill his giant shoes. He is the Big Avocado.”

Pierce introduced Steve McConnell, who opened the Alzheimer’s Association Public Policy division in 1989 and is currently director of U.S. programs for Atlantic Philanthropies. McConnell took a walk down memory lane, reminiscing about the first Forum 25 years ago.

"We did it on a shoestring budget," he said. "We had 125 people here and it went on for four days. People were exhausted, but they were energized. We realized that (the Forum) was here to stay."

McConnell noted that at the time, there was no understanding of the national and international implications of Alzheimer’s disease. The change in perception about the disease and the increase in research funding over the years, he said, is a direct result of the hard work and dedication Alzheimer’s advocates bring to the cause.

"Your presence here is so important to validate the decision makers who can bring about change and to convince them to step up to this issue," McConnell said. "You will be remembered, and you will make a difference. In 25 years, the world will be very different. With your many voices and one message, you will have tamed Alzheimer’s disease, and hopefully it will be a thing you can only read about in history books."

The annual Roll Call of the States followed, with representatives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia — ranging from people with Alzheimer’s to Association employees to volunteers — delivering accomplishments from the past year with humor, civic pride and a few mentions of local sports teams’ achievements. Advocacy successes included, but were not limited to, implementation of state Alzheimer’s disease plans, Silver Alert legislation, advocacy recruitment at Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, dementia training for law enforcement, town hall meetings and the creation of a law that allows employees to use sick days to care for an individual with Alzheimer’s.

As part of the Roll Call, Maryland state senator and Alzheimer’s Association National Board member Verna Jones-Rodwell, attending her first Advocacy Forum, spoke poignantly about her experience with the disease. Both of her parents had Alzheimer’s; Jones-Rodwell uses them as an inspiration to serve others and is grateful for Alzheimer’s advocates.

"The work I do (as a state senator) is not a vocation, it’s an avocation. It’s who I am," she said. "I thank you for being persistent, for educating us, for going the extra step…if you don’t do it, who else is going to do it, right? This is bigger than all of us, but together, it will not conquer any more of us any longer than it has to."

Rob Egge, Alzheimer’s Association vice president of public policy, set the stage for what’s ahead. Commenting that there’s never been a more important year to have a room full of ready advocates, Egge noted the Obama administration has shown its commitment to the cause but that Congress needs to “get in the game.”

Quoting the late Margaret Thatcher, who died with dementia, Egge said, “First you win the debate, then you win the vote. We have been working at this debate. Now we’re going to win the vote together. I feel extremely optimistic. We’ve never had a more compelling case.”

Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador and member of the Association’s Early-Stage Advisory Group Myriam Marquez shared her story about being diagnosed in 2009. A public defender at the time, Marquez said she initially felt despair after learning of her illness, but the “warrior” in her took over; now she devotes her life to fighting the disease that has impacted it. With four children and seven grandchildren, she, like all Forum attendees, wants to do everything she can to find a cure.

"You’re in this room because you want to create change," she said. "You can make the difference. Your passion, experience and training will help us toward a cure for this disease. Thank you for joining me in the fight."

Pierce concluded the session by urging advocates to tell lawmakers that “we’re going to do everything we can” to win that fight. “Now it is time for our representatives to represent,” he said. “Avocados, let’s roll!”

Karen Henley of Westbury, N.Y., is ready to roll. Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the agonizingly early age of 36. He passed away last year at 47, but Henley, who was her husband’s in-home caregiver for the duration of his illness, continues to advocate.

"When you’re a caregiver, you feel like things are out of your control," said Henley, a five-time Forum attendee. "Coming to the Forum helps me feel empowered. It gives me strength. It makes me feel like I can make a difference. By telling our story and giving a face to the disease, it’s not just something these representatives see on paper. It makes it human."


A New Hope

Dementia is the second largest contributor to death among older Americans, with one in every three seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. And despite reliable diagnostic tests, evidence shows over half of those with Alzheimer’s do not know they have the disease. 

Facing these harsh realities, it is crucial that those battling Alzheimer’s have access to diagnosis and care planning services which can lead to better outcomes for themselves, their families and their caregivers.

Today our efforts to improve diagnosis, care planning, and medical record documentation move forward with the reintroduction of the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act. This legislation is one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s most important legislative priorities in the 113th Congress.

In the last session of Congress, the HOPE For Alzheimer’s Act garnered 173 co-sponsors and wide, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. We need your help to build and maintain bipartisan support for passage of this critical legislation!!

Please ask your members of Congress to become a cosponsor of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act in the 113th Congress. 

Learn More About the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act

The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act focuses on three key areas by:

·  Creating a package of services aimed at a formal and documented diagnosis

·  Ensuring that comprehensive care planning services are provided after a diagnosis to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers

·  Requiring documentation of a diagnosis and any care planning services in the beneficiary’s medical record 

The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act is also consistent the recommendations of the first-ever National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was released in 2012 by:

·  Ensuring an accurate and timely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

·  Educating and supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families upon diagnosis

·  Enhancing assistance for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to prepare for care needs

Please ask your Members of Congress to cosponsor the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act !

             Reprinted from the Alzheimer’s Association -

Winning Never Gets Old

You’re invited to watch the new PBS documentary Age of Champions for free April 18th – 28th at

Age of Champions tells the story of five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. You’ll meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole vaulter, and rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age.

This opportunity is brought to you by the Alzheimer’s Association event, The Longest Day®, along with the filmmakers of Age of Champions. We hope that you, your colleagues, friends and family will be able to use this resource as a positive and entertaining tool for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

After being inspired by the film, register to join us on June 21, 2013, for The Longest Day, as together we honor those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.  The Longest Day is about patience, strength and endurance – but it’s also about a challenge. For people living with Alzheimer’s disease, this challenge is every day.

On The Longest Day, do something you love – or try something new – to advance our cause.

Organize a team for this sunrise-to-sunset event and raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. We hope to have lots of different team activities here in Central Missouri. Learn more at