New York, NY (PRWEB) July 24, 2012
To Sarah Hoover of Tyler, TX, her dad, Dr. Eugene M. Allen, was her hero. Seeking a way to honor the memory of her father, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in 2006, she recently crafted a four-foot square quilt of red, white and blue fabric and embroidered stitching that highlights his “extraordinary life” and sums up her feelings at the top with the simple statement, “My Hero.” The quilt, she said, is “a true project of love.”
Differently, Brett Eldredge, a Nashville-based country singer, has honored his late grandmother Anna “Spizz” Eldredge by posting a virtual quilt online that incorporates a touching family photo with a message, “Your smile remains forever in our hearts!”
Although one “physical” and one “virtual,” both quilts are among the latest additions to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) Quilt to Remember, a heartfelt project that honors individuals who had or have Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Now, AFA is expanding its efforts to reach a wider audience with the initiative.
First, AFA, in collaboration with Senior Helpers, one of the nation’s largest in-home care agencies, is taking some or all of the AFA Quilt to Remember on tour to at least 10 cities in 2012 and 2013 in conjunction with a co-sponsored educational series about dementia.
Introduced in 2005 as the nation’s first dementia-related quilt and the only one of this large a scale, the physical quilt has amassed nearly 150 large-scale, colorful panels from individuals and organizations, with scores of others in the works. When laid out side-by-side, the emotionally-charged panels, which measure four-feet or eight-feet square, equal the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
Secondly, adding a new component to the initiative, AFA recently unveiled a virtual quilt on the project’s Web site, http://www.alzquilt.org. It enables people to easily and instantly honor loved ones—instead of or in addition to crafting a traditional quilt.
The virtual quilt has already garnered nearly 100 squares since it went live in early July. Online contributors can select either a stock image—hands engulfing a heart, various flowers or a red heart—or upload a custom photo, and write a personal message to appear on their square.
“The fabric quilt and the virtual tribute, each in their own ways, turn a devastating disease into something beautiful by giving families a vehicle to share life stories and messages about their loved ones. Each unique contribution is a touching gift of love and remembrance,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.
After first displaying the creative arts project in Central Park in New York in 2006, AFA moved the Quilt to Remember around the country on a formal tour for the next two years. Since, it has been holding periodic displays in various venues, including showcasing the quilt at caregiver conferences and lending panels to some of AFA’s 1,600 member organizations nationwide for local events.
The new tour coincides with the rollout of an educational series, “Understanding Dementia Care,” co-sponsored by AFA and Senior Helpers; local Senior Helpers agencies are displaying panels from the quilt collection and presenting free workshops for family caregivers and seminars for healthcare professionals that feature Teepa Snow, a renowned dementia care expert.
Peter Ross, co-founder and CEO of Senior Helpers, a franchise company based in Timonium, MD that focuses on serving the dementia population, said the quilt display adds a “powerful element” to the educational series.
“It addresses the emotional impact of this disease in a very compelling way and emphasizes why optimal care is so important for individuals with dementia,” Ross said.
Hoover’s quilt panel will be among 84 panels on display as part of the tour’s stop in Glendale, AZ on August 16 and 17, for example.
She and her sister, Susan Long, selected the fabric, a local quilt shop owner who knew their father designed the pattern and did the embroidery at no charge, and Hoover and a neighbor handled the sewing. While Hoover wanted to share her dad’s story through the AFA Quilt to Remember, she also made a duplicate quilt to keep for herself.
“A part of him always lives on in all of us who knew him,” Hoover said. “And, now, he will always be remembered and honored through this quilt.”
This summer, in addition to Arizona, the AFA Quilt to Remember will be on display in Napa, CA on August 12 and Pleasanton, CA on August 13.
While the AFA Quilt to Remember has always drawn both quilt enthusiasts and novices, the new virtual component further makes it possible for “everyone to share a legacy,” Hall said. “Our goal is for this project to continue to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves and to continue to shed awareness on this alarming public health crisis.”
AFA is encouraging individuals and organizations to participate through either or both the traditional and virtual quilts, which will continue to grow in size with ongoing submissions. For more information about the tour and to contribute a fabric or virtual quilt, visit http://www.alzquilt.org.
Currently, an estimated 5.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is skyrocketing in line with the aging population; with advanced age the greatest known risk factor, the incidence doubles every five years after age 65.
About the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 independent member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit http://www.alzfdn.org.
About Senior Helpers
Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, visit http://www.seniorhelpers.com.
Photos of quilt panels available upon request.