Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Draws Support from SIU Med School


October 30, 2014

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Draws Support from SIU Med School

As more baby boomers approach age 70, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) increases. Affecting more than 5.2 million people in the United States, AD comes with the hefty price tag of approximately $214 billion annually. While that total takes into account hours of unpaid care provided, hospital bills and pricey medications, the psychological and emotional toll on AD patients and their loved ones is even costlier.

“The impact of Alzheimer’s disease both for sufferers and their loved ones is staggering,” said Dr. Tom Ala, associate professor of clinical neurology and interim director of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (CADRD). “That’s why we are working to provide those with AD and their caregivers options to learn about and manage the disease as well as provide hope for improved treatments.”

In honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, SIU School of Medicine is inviting the public to several events in November.

CADRD invites the public to two free screenings of the movie “Alive Inside” from 10 a.m. – noon and from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Effingham Performance Center, 1325 Outer Belt West in Effingham. The documentary, which won the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, is based on Music & Memory, a therapeutic, nonprofit program founded in New York. The program encourages elder care facilities to provide iPods, headphones and personalized playlists to residents living with AD or dementia. The music-based program, which has been adopted by Mill Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Springfield with the help of the medical school, reduces agitation and anxiety in AD patients while triggering pleasant memories. Following the screenings of “Alive Inside,” Kelly Willenborg, founder of the Healing Jukebox and advocate for the Music & Memory organization, will lead a question and answer session. Register for the event by visiting

Researchers, health care professionals and caregivers are invited to join AD experts at the 19th Annual Memory Loss Conference, co-sponsored by SIU School of Medicine, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Illinois Department on Aging and St. John’s Hospital. The event will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Nov. 21 and 22 at the Crowne Plaza, 3000 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield with the first day dedicated to professionals and the second day directed towards the general public. The conference will shed light on the latest research, clinical trials and treatments as well as offer support to caregivers and health care providers. Register for the event by visiting

Clinical trials offer hope to those afflicted and advance physicians’ understanding of the disease. AD patients may be eligible to participate in one of five clinical trials now underway. Several of the new treatments have the potential to improve individuals’ ability to function or slow the progression of AD in those who are living with the disease. Qualifications to participate vary by study. To learn more about participating in these clinical trials, contact Barbara Lokaitis at 217-545-9737.

During the month of November, experts in diagnosing and treating AD will be made available for comment. Patient and caregiver consented stories will also be available upon request. If interested in speaking with a CADRD patient or caregiver or scheduling an interview with an expert, please contact Lauren Murphy at 217-545-2819.


AD claims nearly 500,000 lives each year, landing the disease sixth on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top 10 causes of death. The Alzheimer’s Association reports:

• AD is the most common form of dementia; it accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases.

• More than 5.2 million Americans live with AD. Of those, about 200,000 are under the age of 65.

• Women are at the epicenter of the disease. Nearly two-thirds of those living with AD are women. Women are also more likely to be the primary caregivers of AD patients.

• One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.


Since 1987, the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (CADRD) at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield has diagnosed, treated and educated Illinois residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related problems. In the last year, the center, along with its Memory and Aging Network, served more than 2,400 patients and their families. Its four-fold mission is to evaluate and treat patients, conduct innovative research, educate the public and health care providers in rural Illinois and maintain a network of 37 memory and aging sites throughout northern, central and southern Illinois.

Media Contacts

Karen Carlson,
SIU, 217-545-3854

Lauren Murphy,
SIU, 217-545-2819


Phone 217-545-8000
P.O. Box 19620
Springfield, IL 62794-9620
The mission of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research, and service to the community.


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