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Alzheimer’s Group to Honor Kirk, Anne Douglas, and Top Caregivers

Event's keynote speaker to discuss latest advances in research on dementia

Anne and Kirk Douglas
Anne and Kirk Douglas (Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter)

To honor exceptional dementia caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative presents the Third Annual ‘Your Brain Matters’ Luncheon at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at Fess Parker Doubletree Resort.

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree is the honorary chair for the fundraising event honoring Kirk and Anne Douglas with the Alzheimer’s Leadership Award. Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker, discussing the latest advances in Alzheimer’s research.

The event is being led by co-chair Katina Etsell, and co-chair and co-founder Gerd Jordano of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter,

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease — two thirds of whom are women. In her early 60s, a woman is about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the course of her lifetime than she is likely to develop breast cancer.

“This is a disease that has been a little overlooked,” said Kirk Douglas. “I’m ready to join with you to help eradicate this awful disease.”

The volunteer-led Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter is driven by influential women who unite community leaders to support the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission to:

Eliminate this devastating disease; provide and enhance care and support for those affected; and reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

From the Caregiver Award nominations submitted in September, the Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative Committee selected two Santa Barbara County residents for their outstanding efforts: Spouse Caregiver awardee, Michael Keane; and Professional Caregiver awardee, Beatriz Santana.

Alzheimer’s is the fifth leading cause of death in California and fourth in Santa Barbara County.

“In Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties, more than 40,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s,” said Rhonda Spiegel, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter.

“Their caregivers give countless hours of unpaid care each year to family members, friends and colleagues," she said.

"The Alzheimer’s Association is proud to support and recognize these unsung heroes who often sacrifice their own needs to provide care for the people they love. We are thrilled to have Kirk and Anne Douglas and look forward to honoring them at the luncheon,” said Spiegel.

"Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s," she said.

"While longevity and lower death rates explain this in part, there is an urgent need to understand how differences in brain structure, disease progression, and hormonal and molecular characteristics may contribute to higher incidence and rates of cognitive decline,"

Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they also are more likely to be caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s. More than three in five unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers are women.

Women are 2 1/2 times more likely to provide 24-hour care for someone with Alzheimer’s and are likely to experience adverse consequences in the workplace because of caregiving duties. Nearly 19 percent of women Alzheimer’s caregivers had to quit work either to become a caregiver or because their care-giving duties became too burdensome.

Philanthropists Kirk and Anne Douglas are longstanding crusaders in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. They gifted the Motion Picture and Television Fund the first Alzheimer’s care facility, Harry’s Haven, in 1992, back when the world wasn’t thinking much about Alzheimer’s disease.

Last December, to celebrate Kirk’s 99th birthday, Kirk and Anne donated $15 million to the Motion Picture and Television Fund to help fund a new Alzheimer’s treatment facility, the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion.

“My family came from Russia,” said Kirk. “They didn’t speak English, and we were very poor, [but] they always said to me, ‘You must help other people’.”

The Douglas’ visionary leadership for over two decades has helped countless families, providing them with a warm and loving environment on their journey with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative was inspired and influenced by "The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s," a group of key women leaders and visionaries came together to use their brains to help wipe out Alzheimer’s disease. They formed the Alzheimer’s Women Initiative.

The Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter is headquartered in Santa Barbara, with regional offices in Kern, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. Visit www.alz.org/CACentral or call 892.4259.

— Mitchel Sloan for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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