Alzheimer’s Educational Tour and ‘Quilt to Remember’ to Stop in San Francisco Area

Local Families and Caregivers Learn How to Cope with Devastating Disease

July 23, 2012 // // San Francisco – With the nation focusing increasing attention on Alzheimer’s disease as a major public health crisis, San Francisco area families will have the opportunity to get educated about how to cope with a disease that can carry a devastating diagnosis for the entire family.

On Sunday, August 12, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a leading national nonprofit organization, and Senior Helpers, one of the nation’s largest in-home senior care companies, will co-sponsor a free, riveting hands-on workshop about Alzheimer’s disease for families  and a display of the emotionally moving AFA Quilt To Remember from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Napa.

Then, on Monday, August 13, there will also be an educational seminar for healthcare professionals in the morning in Walnut Creek, and another free, family workshop and quilt display in the evening in Pleasanton.

The events are part of a nationwide tour by AFA and Senior Helpers, which has local offices in San Francisco and ten surrounding cities (Napa, Santa Rosa, Berkeley, Dublin, Palo Alto, Concord, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara and Moraga), to help families and professionals navigate the chronic disease. The tour features Teepa Snow, a renowned dementia expert who has shared her practical care strategies with tens of thousands of people caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

The free workshop for family caregivers will provide essential information about dementia, including warning signs, coping strategies for behavioral challenges, communication tips, and how to have a positive and meaningful relationship with loved ones with the disease throughout their journey. The display of more than two dozen panels from the heartfelt AFA Quilt to Remember—spanning the size of an Olympic swimming pool when in its entirety—illustrates the life stories of real people with the disease.

It’s estimated that more than 530,000 people throughout California have Alzheimer’s disease, including nearly 14,000 individuals in San Francisco. The brain disorder results in the loss of memory and other intellectual functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Its incidence doubles every five years beyond age 65.

In response to the escalating incidence of Alzheimer’s disease nationwide, the federal government released in May  the first “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease,” which includes strategies to prevent or effectively treat the disease by 2020, better educate family caregivers and healthcare professionals, and provide long-term support services to families.

“This tour carries out the spirit of the historic national plan at the local level. We believe that empowering people through education is the first step in properly caring for a loved one with this heartbreaking illness,” said Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of AFA and a member of the Advisory Council on Research, Care and Services that has been advising on the national plan.


Teepa Snow - nationally renowned dementia care expert, occupational therapist and creator of the revolutionary Senior Gems Program. Snow assigns each stage of the disease to a gem, like a diamond or ruby, and helps caregivers navigate every mood and movement of a loved one who is desperately trying to cope with the disease.


Free workshop for families and caregivers.  This is not a seminar where you sit and simply listen.  Snow  turns an auditorium into an active environment where she engages the audience in real-life scenarios, giving them hands-on do’s and don’ts of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Snow’s workshops bring attendees to tears with her extraordinary gift for acting out the emotional journey of taking care of a loved one with the disease. Each attendee will receive a free Senior Gems DVD that teaches coping skills for each stage of the disease.

In addition…Visit the AFA Quilt To Remember, the AFA’s large-scale quilt that pays tribute to individuals who have had or have dementia, family caregivers and healthcare professionals.  The heartfelt arts project continues to grow in size with ongoing contributions and tours the country to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. For more information about the quilt, visit

When and Where:

Sunday, August 12th 

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: FREE workshop for families and caregivers
Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center, 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway, Napa (in the theater).
A select number of seats are available. Please pre-register at

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: AFA Quilt to Remember display
Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center, 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway, Napa (in the lobby).

Monday, August 13th

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Interactive session for healthcare professionals to earn up to three CEs.  $35 per CE attendee, $15 per non-CE attendee.

John Muir Medical Center,1601 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek (Ball Auditorium).
A select number of seats are available. Please pre-register at

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: FREE workshop for families and caregivers
California Center at Pleasanton Conference Center, 4400 Rosewood Drive, Pleasanton.
A select number of seats are available. Please pre-register at

6 p.m. - 8 p.m.: AFA Quilt to Remember display
California Center at Pleasanton Conference Center, 4400 Rosewood Drive, Pleasanton.

About Senior Gems

Senior Gems is a revolutionary program to help family members and professional caregivers properly care for their aging loved ones through each stage of dementia.  Teepa Snow began developing her Gem Levels in 2006. In 2011, the Senior Gem program was created with her guidance and assistance.  This program puts Senior Helpers at the forefront of individual and in-home dementia-specialized caregiving as they offer all of their in-home companions and caregivers the opportunity to become dementia care certified through the training program.

About Senior Helpers

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has about 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care.  For more information, please visit

About Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a leading nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit

Teepa Tips for Working With People Who Have Dementia:

  • Offer supportive NOT confrontational communication
  • Emphasize what you want to have happen, NOT who’s the boss or who’s right
  • Recognize the value of mistakes or ‘UH OHs’ - and turn them into new strategies and ‘AH HAs!’
  • Provide short, simple information rather than asking questions you do NOT want to hear the answer to
  • Offer concrete and clear options or choices rather than wide open requests that require both word-finding and decision-making to answer

Do’s and Don’ts  of Working With People With Alzheimer’s Disease:

Most people with Alzheimer’s disease can perform a task once they get started, but they may have trouble initiating or switching tasks.  Their abilities fluctuate from day to day, day to night, person to person, and minute to minute. This makes it hard to exactly predict what they will or will not be able to do. It means we, as caregivers, need to be flexible and supportive rather than pointing out the errors and getting frustrated with the changing abilities.

Memory Failure

If a person with  Alzheimer’s disease  forgets about a doctor’s appointment:

Don’t say, “How could you forget? I told you three times!”  This is frustrating for the person to hear and puts them on the defensive. Remember, caregiving is not about being right.

Do say, “I am sorry we didn’t get things worked out ahead of time for that appointment… (pause).. I thought I had said something about it, but I may not have. I will have to try to do a better job of making sure that happens, next time.”  This helps break the communication barrier and helps the person feel that you are on his/her side.

People with Alzheimer’s disease can’t remember new information but old memories are still intact. This is brain failure.

Don’t tell your mother with Alzheimer’s disease to meet you at Macy’s at the mall if it has moved to a new location.  She will go to where Macy’s used to be – to what is now JC Penny’s - because she can’t remember the new information that Macy’s has moved. She may even drive around for hours trying to find Macy’s in the old location.

Do take your mother to the mall or hire a caregiver to take her. If you bring her there, she faces less of a risk of getting  lost.

Did You Know?

  • The annual cost of caring for one individual with Alzheimer’s disease ranges from nearly $18,500 to more than $65,000, depending on the stage of the disease and the setting.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years, beginning at age 65.


Stacey Hilton

Sue Yannello



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