FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 21, 2009
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Names Actor Hector Elizondo as Honorary Chairman
NEW YORK, NY — The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) today announced that actor Hector Elizondo, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease, will serve as the honorary celebrity chairman of AFA.
Elizondo’s efforts to help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease come as the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease soars, especially as the population ages. In the United States, the number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2000 and 2030 to 70.3 million or 20 percent of the population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise two-fold, to 8.9 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Age is the greatest known risk factor for the brain disorder.
In his role as AFA’s honorary chairman, Elizondo, well-known for his role in “Pretty Woman,” “The Princess Diaries,” and other major films and TV shows, will urge Americans to act on any memory concerns and encourage participation in AFA’s National Memory Screening Day on November 17. The annual event offers free, confidential memory screenings at community sites nationwide and is the focal point of AFA’s early detection initiative.
“If you have memory concerns, burying your head in the sand doesn’t help you or your family,” Elizondo said. “Instead, it’s important to take action and take a memory screening. Screenings are a great starting point to find out what what’s really going on and can lead to the care you might need—and the support your family might need.”
The New York-born actor has been drawn to the cause as a result of his family’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease. When his mother began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1960’s, he said stigma and ignorance about the illness made it very difficult for his family to seek help.
“But there’s no reason for that today. Education and resources are plentiful. It all starts with being proactive, not inactive,” Elizondo said.
On National Memory Screening Day, qualified healthcare professionals are expected to administer the non-invasive screenings to tens of thousands of Americans as well as distribute educational materials to countless others at more than 2,000 sites in local communities nationwide. The results do not represent a diagnosis, but individuals with below-normal scores or who still have concerns are strongly encouraged to follow up for a full medical examination. For more information, visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, and their families, and unites 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line, counseling by licensed social workers and a free caregiver magazine. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Contact: Carol Steinberg