Florida Gulf Coast Chapter


Highlands, Hardee, Hendry & Glades Counties  Update 

March 2013

In This Issue
Support Groups
Seven Stages of Alzheimer's
Caregiver's Day Out
State Plan to Address the Growing Needs of People Affected by Alzheimer's Disease
Care for the Caregiver: Alzheimer's Navigator
Caregiver Jewels: Decrease the Chances of Wandering
All programs are free to attend unless otherwise specified.
March 5, Caregiver EducationAlzheimer's Disease: What Family Caregivers Need to Know presented by  USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute at Southland Suites and Clare Bridge Place, 4250 Lakeland Highlands Rd., Lakeland.  10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and includes lunch. There is no cost, but preregistration is required to (813) 974-4357 or (800) 633-4563.
March 6, Alzheimer's Association- Florida Gulf Coast Chapter table at the 2nd Annual Caregiver's Summit at Sebring Christian Church, 4514 Hammock Rd, Sebring. 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 


Schedule of Events:


8:30 a.m. Registration opens


8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Resource Fair in the fellowship hall (visit the Alzheimer's Association- Florida Gulf Coast Chapter table to receive free literature and resource related to dementia care).


9:00- 9:45 a.m. Break Out Session 1(choose one of the following to attend) 
  • Classroom 1 Patricia Henderson, West Central FL. Area Aging Office: Elder Care Services:
  • Classroom 2 (Sanctuary) Victor J. Divietro, Waypoint Financial: Financial Planning:
  • Classroom 3  Terre Anne Lindstame, Director, Ombudsman
10:00- 10:45 a.m. Break Out Session 2 (choose one of the following to attend) 
  • Medicaid Specialist: West Central Fl Area Agency on Aging
  • Classroom 2 (Sanctuary): Alzheimer's Behaviors: Lisa Rodriguez, Change of Pace Day Care & Caregiver Stress: Autumn Egan, Cornerstone Hospice
  • Classroom 3: Safety: Nell Hays, Highlands County Sheriff Office
  • Classroom 4: How To Adapt Your Home: John Hurt, Center for Independent Living   
11:00- 11:45 a.m. Break Out Session 3 (choose one of the following to attend) 
  • Classroom 1: Dealing with Grief, Charlie Stroup, Mental Health Counselor
  • Classroom 2 (Sanctuary) Legal Issues: Livingston & Livingston, Attorneys at Law
  • Classroom 3: Get ALL of your VA Benefits: VA Service Center of Sebring 

12:00- 1:30 p.m. lunch and door prizes.

If you do not have reservations, please check for availability of space. For more information contact Suzzanne Cruz, 863-386-6420.


March 23, 7th Annual Memory Poker Run: Ride to Find a Cure. Preregister by March 16 to be entered in a 100 drawing. Featuring Alzheimer's Association program specialist Chris Wilcox in the Dunk Tank; music by Almost There, complementary breakfast and much more such as $1000 for best hand and $500 worst hand. All proceeds support the Walk to End Alzheimer's. For more information click on the event link above to view the program flyer and registration form.


*March 29, Third Annual Caregiver's Day Out at Bok Tower Gardens1151 Tower Blvd. Lake Wales, FL, 863.676.1408. Reservations required. To RSVP call 863.292.9210 or email thompsons@alzflgulf.org. 


* Indicates programs presented by the Alzheimer's Association- Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Support Groups


Alzheimer's Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter affiliated support groups are for family members, caregivers, and others interested in learning more about Alzheimer's disease. Meetings are open to everyone and free of charge. Support group facilitators have received training as required by Chapter and National Alzheimer's Association standards. For program information and to verify meeting dates, times, and locations, please use the telephone contacts listed below. For other questions or for respite care information so you can attend a group, call your local office or 1- 800-272-3900.


Message Boards: The Alzheimer's Association message boards and chat rooms are your online communication forum. Our message boards have over 9,000 registered members from around the United States, and many more people who simply browse the stories and information that is offered 24 hours a day. Join the Alzheimer's Association online community.


Caregiver Support Group


Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center

Faith Community Nursing Building

4635 Sun N Lake Blvd. Sebring, FL 33872

4th Wednesday of each month, excluding major holidays, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Co-facilitators: Stefanie Thompson & Chris Wilcox

For more information call 863-292-9210.

Seven Stages of Alzheimer's


Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Frameworks or models can be useful when trying to better understand the possible progression of the disease.


One such model is the the seven-stage framework which is based on a system developed by Barry Reisberg, M.D., clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine's Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center.
Note that Alzheimer's symptoms vary. The stages below provide a general idea of how abilities change during the course of the disease.

Stage 1: No impairment
The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.

Left- No impairment.

Right- Very severe decline

Stage 2: Very mild decline
The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses - forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.
Stage 3: Mild decline
Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration
Stage 4: Moderate decline
At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas.
Stage 5: Moderately severe decline
Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities.
Stage 6: Severe decline
Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities.
Stage 7: Very severe decline
In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement.


Remember that not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate. In addition, it might be difficult to place a person in one stage as stages overlap.
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Caregiver's Day Out
Courtesy Bok Tower GardensThe third annual Caregiver's Day Out at Bok Tower Gardens is March 29,
2013.  Family caregivers and their loved ones can enjoy an evening of relaxation and inspiration.  Featured events include

a garden tour, healing arts with Tinia Clark, Arts Ensemble Education Foundation, dinner and a moonlight carillon concert. Starting around 4:15, attendees  will be given a guided tour of the beautiful gardens visiting the crown jewel of the gardens, the Singing Tower. Dinner served around 6:00 p.m. is sponsored by Family Elder Law and Sun Trust.  The evening carillon concert only happens once a month during a full moon and begins at 7:30.  Companies who want to be a part of this event are welcome to donate door prizes. For more information email thompsons@alzflgulf.org or call 863-292-9210.

State Plan to Address the Growing Needs of People Affected by Alzheimer's Disease
Gloria J.T. Smith, President/CEO
Alzheimer's Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Every 68 seconds someone develops Alzheimer's, but that number is expected to skyrocket in coming years. Baby boomers are now reaching their golden years; therefore Florida will witness a dramatic increase of Alzheimer population.

Last year, the Florida Legislature approved legislation that created an 18-member Purple Ribbon Task Force that will develop a comprehensive state plan to address the growing needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.


The new law requires the Task Force to assess the current impact of the disease and determine what future steps are needed to support the growing number of families affected by this devastating disease. With the leadership of Representative Matt Hudson (Naples) and Senator Garrett Richter (Naples), the bill moved swiftly through the legislative process with full support by the entire Legislature and the Governor.


Since the final approval by the Governor, the 18 members were appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Florida Senate, and the Governor. Representative Matt Hudson was unanimously appointed by the members to Chair the Task Force.


The Purple Ribbon Task Force immediately mapped dementia-specific services around the state and identified the gaps in services. To date, the Purple Ribbon Task Force has met five times by webinar; created four subcommittees who have met multiple times. As required by law, the Task Force submitted an Interim Report to the Governor, Speaker and President on January 30. 2013.


The Task Force now begins the second phase of the year-long process by assessing the services and gaps, and developing a comprehensive plan that will include recommendations for change. The Task Force must submit the plan to the Speaker, President and Governor by August 1, 2013. We are anticipating Alzheimer legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session that will include many of the recommended changes made by the Purple Ribbon Task Force.


Gloria J.T. Smith, President/CEO of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter was appointed to serve on the Purple Ribbon Task Force.

Care for the Caregiver
Stefanie Thompson, Sr. Prog. Specialist, AAFGCC

Caregivers may find that with so many responsibilities self care is placed as a lesser priority than care of a loved one. Yet, staying physically and emotionally strong is key to healthier caregiving. To this end, this column is dedicated to health promotion and personal care for the caregiver.

Alzheimer's Navigator™

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease raises many questions. The Alzheimer's Navigator - a free online tool designed specifically to help guide you to answers by creating customized action plans and providing access to information, support and local resources.


When facing dementia, there are a lot of things to consider. Alzheimer's Navigator helps map out a plan to approach Alzheimer's disease. Follow simple steps to figure out the next steps to develop a personalized action plan.

  • Complete the Welcome Survey (Estimated time: 5 minutes). Example questions: Are you caring for someone with Alzheimer's or living with the disease yourself? What sort of challenges do you face on a daily basis?
  • Answer focused surveys (Estimated time: 5 minutes). Based on your responses to the Welcome Survey, we will suggest additional surveys focused on the topics you want to know about, covering everything from care to safety to planning for the future.
  • Receive a customized Action Plan. (See sample). We will deliver a tailored plan in an easy-to-use format.

Ready to get started? Go to the Alzheimer's Navigator page and take the first steps towards your personalized action plan.

Caregiver Jewels
Emily Reese, Program Specialist, AAFGCC

Welcome to Caregiver Jewels, a column featuring caregiving tips by family and professional caregivers throughout our 17 county service area.  These "golden nuggets" represent caregiving strategies and tricks of the trade.
For the column to be a success we need your input!
It may be a "golden nugget" you say to get your loved one to attend a program or an activity to redirect their attention. Whether your tip is a diamond, emerald or ruby - all are valuable! So, please share the wealth!
Send your tip to reesee@alzflgulf.org or contact your local office.

March Tip

Decrease the Chances of Wandering 


A caregiver obtained a wireless doormat chime on Amazon.com. When the mat is stepped on a chime sounds on the chiming unit which alerts the caregiver that their loved one is on the move. The mat can be placed by the side of a bed or in front of a door.


Since, six out of ten people with Alzheimer's disease will wander and wandering can happen at any stage of the disease, it is important to take steps to increase the safety of the person with dementia. A chiming doormat is just one of many options or tools available to increase the safety of a loved one. Other options include the following:

  • The MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return® program is a nationwide identification program designed to save lives by facilitating the safe return of those whose wander. It includes an identification bracelet for the person with dementia as well as an optional caregiver bracelet.
  • The Comfort Zone® and Comfort Zone Check-In™programs allows families to monitor a loved one's whereabouts remotely using web-based location services.
Comfort Zone
Comfort Zone


For more information visit Wandering and Getting Lost

located within the Safety section of the Alzheimer's Association Care Center. The page includes warning signs of wandering as well as strategies to help lower its chances. Remember that no safety plan is foolproof but proper planning can provide peace of mind to the caregiver and greatly increase safety for the person with dementia.


Note: The information in this column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you have questions, concerns or just wish to talk to someone please feel free to contact us. 



Stefanie Thompson and Chris Wilcox

Alzheimer's Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Sebring Office

Email: thompsons@alzflgulf.org / wilcoxc@alzflgulf.org

Office: 863-292-9210

Fax: 863-292-9603


Alzheimer's Association - Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Chapter Headquarters, 14010 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 709, Clearwater, FL 33762 Telephone: 727.578.2558

National Headquarters-Alzheimer's Association National Office, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601

Alzheimer's Association is a not-for-profit  501(c)(3) organization © 2010 Alzheimer's Association. All rights reserved. 

24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900