Did you know that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness month? For this reason (and many more) we chose the Alzheimer’s Association as our Organization of the Month for June. To keep funds as local as possible, one percent of our June sales will go directly to the South Central Wisconsin chapter specifically. We are also hosting a BBQ Rib Battle on June 21st to benefit this chapter. Talk about #SSEdoingcoolshit ! By attending this event your money will go directly towards fighting Alzheimer’s—and you’ll get to enjoy yummy ribs, sides, and drinks in the meantime!

Five million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s in the United States. That means that millions more are directly or indirectly affected by this devastating disease. We have been personally touched in our families, friend circles, and community. We have lost loved ones and are doing what we can to ensure that future loved ones are not lost to Alzheimer’s. There is currently no treatment and no cure for Alzheimer’s—so the battle continues. We recently got in touch with Special Events Coordinator Sara Neumann of the South Central Wisconsin chapter to gain some important insight about Alzheimer’s.

So what does the Alzheimer’s Association do?
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

What does the Alzheimer’s Association do that many people may not realize?
Every donation and dollar raised for the Alzheimer’s Association helps support local chapters by providing free educational programs and workshops to increase knowledge and support those facing the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association uses donated funds to offer a free nationwide 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) and online messages boards through ALZConnected to allow those with the disease and their caregivers to exchange information and build relationships with others. They also use donated funds for innovative projects in critical global research that hold the most potential to change the devastating trajectory of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is currently touching me in some way. Where do I go for support?
The South Central Wisconsin chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association can assist you greatly. They can assist anyone that needs care and support for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. They provide free educational programs, support groups and other services to the community; many people have said to them, “Wow, I wish I would have known about the Alzheimer’s Association in this area sooner!” For more information go to the chapter’s website.

In what ways can people best support individuals with Alzheimer’s?
Supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may be challenging and stressful. The Alzheimer’s Association has a wide range of resources for caregivers. You can meet with Alzheimer’s Association representatives in person and talk about your family’s individual needs, visit www.alz.org/care for online support, or call the 24/7 Helpline staffed by specialist and master’s-level clinicians who provide support, offer information and suggest referrals—all day, every day.

I want to get involved to help fight Alzheimer’s. How can I do this locally? 
There are many ways to get involved on a local level. We’ve listed a few below:
Volunteer: become a committee member, help at a special event, or help with community outreach.
Participate in any Alzheimer’s Association special events including the Longest Day
-Even simple steps like changing your Facebook profile’s to the “Go Purple for Alz” photo frame can help. You can make a difference just by posting on social media. Use the hashtags #TheLongestDay and #ENDALZ to spread your message!
Attend any Alzheimer’s Association program and/or use a service and share the love.

So what is The Longest Day?
The Longest Day is a nationwide campaign that is all about love for those affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s the longest day of the year, which means there is more than enough daylight to make a difference! Organize an activity or join one that is already happening in your area. Participants create their own unique tribute that rallies people together around the cause. Together, we will raise funds and awareness for care and support while advancing research toward the first survivor of Alzheimer’s. We’re participating in this special day with our very own BBQ Rib Battle at Short Stack—an easy and fun way to chow down and make a difference in the lives of so many!

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Sara likes to explain it this way: Look at dementia as an overall term that describes a set of symptoms associated with the decline in memory; Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of these cases, and is the most common form of dementia. Many people think this is just a part of aging and that it is normal. But it is a disease process and can impact someone’s ability in every facet of the individual’s independence, not just in short-term memory. Everyone will need 24/7 care in the mid to late stages of the disease and is fatal in every situation. We hope to change the future for millions and find a breakthrough in research to keep our brains healthier and disease free.

This vision to end to Alzheimer’s is one shared by the millions affected. Ellen Fish (married to one of our BBQ Rib Battle chefs, Brett Fish) lost her father as well as other family members to Alzheimer’s, and is all too aware of how devastating this disease is. In the wake of this loss, she has stayed involved with the Alzheimer’s Association through their newsletters, social media, the Alzheimer’s walk, and her support this year with the BBQ Rib Battle. She is a shining example of how individuals can make a huge difference in fighting Alzheimer’s. While Ellen has experienced the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s with a loved one firsthand, she maintains hope for the future.

“While we can’t yet control the outcome of this disease or who is going to be diagnosed with this disease or who is going to eventually be a caregiver for someone with this disease, we can do this,” she said. “We can fight, we can fund, we can laugh and gather and eat. And someday we can win.”