By Jennifer Braisted and Kate Pokorny
Brittany Carel was 13 years old when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now a junior at Florida Atlantic University, Carel wants to use her personal experience with the debilitating disease to help others in similar situations.
That is why at the end of January she and 21 fellow Alzheimer’s advocates ranging in age from 19 to 80 from all across South Florida traveled to Tallahassee to advocate for those caring for and living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The Southeast Florida delegation joined more than 50 Alzheimer’s Association advocates from around the state in Tallahassee for the annual Rally in Tally event. The event educated state legislators about Alzheimer’s and advocated for the association’s state priorities. The Southeast Florida Chapter has not participated in the annual Rally in Tally day in over eight years. During the event, the historic Capitol was lit purple in honor of the more than 510,000 Floridians with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Having people come up from all around Florida to spread awareness is key to helping people realize the seriousness of this disease,” said Carel.
The Southeast Florida advocates visited more than 60 state legislators from their area in the eight hours they were at the Capitol. During these visits, the advocates discussed the association’s state priorities.
The association aims to get an increase of $1.7 million in funding for respite services. This increase will help the more than one million Alzheimer’s caregivers in Florida receive needed services, like financial assistance for adult day care.
In 2015, caregivers provided more than one billion hours of unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there are more than 3,600 families on the waitlist to receive respite services in the state.
The Alzheimer’s Association also aims to get an increase of $6 million for the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program. The program awards grants for research relating to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s is a global epidemic which is rampant in the state of Florida,” said Jennifer Braisted, advocacy and public policy coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter. “We went to Tallahassee to fight for the 1.5 million Floridians who are either living with or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.”
To find out how to get involved in the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida’s advocacy efforts call 561-967-0047 or email Jennifer Braisted at firstname.lastname@example.org