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Alzheimer’s group severs ties with association

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The Eastern Tennessee Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association — which serves Roane County — is returning to its original independent status.

Organization officials said the move is to ensure that even more area resources support top research and area services for individuals and families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

The organization is now known as Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. and will focus even greater attention on East Tennessee and the Cumberlands through community partnerships and the reputation for service it has developed during the past three decades.

“To ensure that more funds raised in East Tennessee and the Cumberlands go to individuals and families in this area, our local board of directors decided unanimously that it was time to return to our original independent status,” said board Chairwoman Mary Lyn Goodman.

“The organization’s name has changed, but its services, staff, board and supporters remain committed to serving those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia in East Tennessee and the Cumberlands.”

Janice Wade-Whitehead, who has led the organization for 20 years, will continue as executive director.

She can now be reached at janice.wade@tnalz.org

The group is noted for supporting caregiver programs and research through Alzheimer’s Walks.

Volunteers with Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc., will raise funds through four regional walks this fall in Maryville, Oak Ridge, Pigeon Forge and Cookeville, as well as the Knoxville Alzheimer’s Walk in the spring 2012.

“We want to guarantee those dollars — made possible by generous area individuals, families, foundations, companies and countless volunteers committed to grassroots fundraising against Alzheimer’s  — will directly benefit local families as well as the most promising research,” Wade-Whitehead said.

Wade-Whitehead said the Chicago-based national Alzheimer’s Association has been increasing its demands for locally raised funds to redistribute nationally.

“We became increasingly concerned that funds raised in East Tennessee were going out of the area and limiting our ability to fund the vital programs we offer locally,” Wade-Whitehead said.

“The fund-raising format the national organization recently put into place redistributes significant money raised through East Tennessee’s great volunteer spirit.”

Other U.S. chapters have ended their relationship with the national organization due to similar concerns.

Area families founded the Eastern Tennessee Chapter in 1983. Two years later, it became a charter chapter with the national organization.

However, the chapter always remained incorporated in Tennessee and governed by an area board of directors.

“When Alzheimer's disease impacted my family, the people of Alzheimer's Tennessee Inc. are the ones who provided me with guidance and a list of resources to help my family,” past board president Terry Payne said.

“The staff members of Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. are the same people that have been serving families impacted by this disease for nearly 30 years,” explained Payne, who is chairman for the 2011 five-county walk in Oak Ridge.

“The experienced local staff members of Alzheimer's Tennessee provide direct one-to-one assistance to people from our community impacted by this horrific disease,” he said. “That is why I support this organization, because of the experience and the hearts of the staff of Alzheimer's Tennessee."

Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. will support research into causes and treatments to attack Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that has no cure.

About 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

More than 120,000 Tennesseans have Alzheimer’s disease, and an estimated 400,000 Tennesseans are caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

With offices in Knoxville and Cookeville, Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. will continue serving Roane, Knox and 24 other counties from Putnam in the west to Hancock in the northeast part of the state.

Families receive assistance through such programs as the agency’s locally staffed Helpline, consultations on care for persons with the disease, adult day program in Knox County and at least 42 support groups.

Families also receive help with local resources and referrals, financial assistance, in-service training opportunities for staff at area facilities, advocacy aimed at enhancements in law and policy, an annual research symposium for physicians and health-care professionals and educational materials and programs such as caregiver-training workshops with area specialists and nationally renowned experts.

Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. has a new website, www.alztennessee.org.

It can still be reached through Helplines at 865-544-6288 in Knoxville and 931-526-8010 in Cookeville.

“We like the fact that people from East Tennessee and the Cumberlands will be making the decisions about how to best help their neighbors,” Wade-Whitehead said.

“As always, people will still be able to rely on us for the information and assistance they need to help family members with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”