Our very own CEO Jim McAleer speaks on Alzheimer’s Orange County and the local fight against Alzheimer’s disease
PopHealth Podcast recently featured Alzheimer’s Orange County’s CEO Jim McAleer on their show. Jim shares his experiences working with various nonprofit organizations, from teaching a choir for adults with memory deterioration, to eventually (after 11 interviews!) becoming president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Orange County.
You can listen to the entire podcast here, or read a recap below:
The History of the Organization
Alzheimer’s Orange County, formerly known as Alzheimer’s Association Orange County Chapter up until 2015, is an independent nonprofit company dedicated to serving individuals and families in Orange County who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Since the changeover, Alzheimer’s Orange County has taken on two adult day health centers (Acacia Adult Day Services and South County Adult Day Services), expanded our services, trained tens of thousands of caregivers, and doubled in size both fiscally and in personnel.
We maintain a close, collaborative relationship with fellow sister southern California organizations, Alzheimer’s San Diego and Alzheimer’s Los Angeles. We often share branding, programs, and resources as a means of helping each other work towards a shared initiative.
Did you know that Jim founded the Orange County Aging Services Collaborative (OCASC) in order to encourage collaboration and unity among senior-servicing organizations in Orange County? What began merely as a means for these different organizations to discuss their goals has eventually led to a range of shared programs, activities, and services, and synchronized efforts to make Orange County a better place for our older adults.
OCASC now has 35 members. Jim also spearheaded the Orange County Strategic Plan for Aging, developed in 2016.
Programs and Services
Alzheimer’s Orange County offers a variety of programs dedicated to enriching the lives of Orange County’s families fighting Alzheimer’s, as well as raising awareness to combat the stigma towards aging and dementia. Our interfaith services, for example, are designed for those who are too far along in the disease to participate in their local synagogues or houses of worship. Jim remarks, “It’s pretty powerful to watch how music and art can touch somebody at a level that, sometimes, language can’t.”
Jim also discusses Dementia Friends, a program for those who wish to learn the foundations of being “dementia capable.” Being a Dementia Friend allows you to not only support people with Alzheimer’s, but to encourage kindness and tolerance instead of the societal labels often assigned to those with cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s Orange County is the official Orange County administrator of Dementia Friends, which is an international movement.
World Alzheimer’s Month
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a yearly international campaign to raise awareness and challenge the dementia stigma. As the aging population increases, so does the population touched by Alzheimer’s; 1 out of 3 older adults have Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.
Jim goes into defining dementia, which many people do not realize is an umbrella term, separate and different from Alzheimer’s disease. Because there are many forms of dementia, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from a professional clinic.
Alzheimer’s Orange County’s Helpline (1-844-HELP-ALZ) is run by specialists who are able to refer callers to different clinics and professionals in the area, taking into consideration the caller’s insurance and other needs.
If you want to join in the movement against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, there are many ways to do so. A first step could be to reach out to a loved one in your family or close to you, who is experiencing any form of cognitive impairment. Monetary donations are always appreciated, but there are also ways of raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease that are fun, interactive, and can forge long-lasting memories. Our annual community fundraiser, Walk4ALZ & Run4ALZ, is being held at Angel Stadium this November, and is one of our most anticipated events as thousands come together in solidarity in the local fight against Alzheimer’s
Thank you, PopHealth Podcast for featuring us this month! Feel free to visit PopHealth Podcast’s website, where you can listen to the full broadcast.