CHAIRWOMAN DIANNE JACOB
SUPERVISOR DAVE ROBERTS
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Contacts: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108
John Weil, 619-531-5533

MAYOR KEVIN FAULCONER
City of San Diego
Contact: Matt Awbrey
619-453-9913

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NEWS RELEASE

12/2/2014

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REGIONAL LEADERS UNITE TO BATTLE ALZHEIMER’S EPIDEMIC

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San Diego’s top city and county officials -- joined by brain researchers, healthcare experts and caregivers – today unveiled an ambitious regional strategy to battle Alzheimer’s disease and find a cure.

At a special conference of the county Board of Supervisors, civic leaders said the strategy includes the development of uniform standards for the diagnosis and management of the disease, expanded use of GPS and other measures to curb wandering by Alzheimer’s patients and the launch of Part the Clouds, a community fund drive to spur additional research. Local philanthropist and caregiver Darlene Shiley is donating $100,000 to jump-start the fund and encouraged others to give what they can.

“We now have for the first time a regional roadmap to guide us as we confront the devastating toll of Alzheimer’s disease on our families and communities,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman. “We’re marshaling forces and battling this epidemic head-on.”

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Related:

Video of the special Dec. 2 Alzheimer's conference

Media coverage in U-T San Diego and on KUSI

More about The Alzheimer's Project

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The strategy is detailed in a new county report, “The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms,” an outgrowth of The Alzheimer’s Project, an initiative announced by Jacob in her State of the County address earlier this year.

“Alzheimer’s devastates families, claims lives and wears down caregivers, who are often family members. Caregivers struggle with their own mental and physical health while caring for a loved one,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts, who teamed up with Jacob earlier this year on the issue. “The Alzheimer’s Project paves the way for the county and its partners to extend a helping hand to all those affected by this terrible disease.”

About 60,000 local residents have the disease. That number is expected to reach nearly 100,000 by 2030. The disease is now the county’s third leading cause of death.

"This regional initiative will develop solutions to Alzheimer's by boosting our efforts to find a cure, drawing on the expertise of our world-class researchers," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who spoke at the board gathering. "San Diego is a leader in innovation, and I believe if any place can crack the code of Alzheimer's and cure it, it's here."

County health officials say other regions of the country have launched similar efforts to battle dementia, but not on this scale. The Alzheimer’s Project includes a broad cross-section of community leaders and experts, including Shiley, Sheriff Bill Gore and Alzheimer’s Association President/CEO Mary Ball, along with front-line physicians, residential care facility owners and many others.

World-renowned brain researchers at UC San Diego, Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Salk Institute are also part of the project.

Participants began meeting earlier this year to develop a strategy focused on four areas: Cure, care, clinical, and public awareness and education. The Board of Supervisors approved the detailed blueprint today, following presentations on each area.

Among the initiatives:

• The launch of the Part the Clouds fund drive to spur local research innovation and drug discovery. The five-year, $7 million fund is expected to open additional avenues of neurological study. Donations can be made through the Alzheimer’s Association website: alz.org/sandiego. Shiley’s $100,000 gift gives the fund a sizable jump on its first-year fundraising goal of $500,000. “A cure will come, and Part the Clouds can help bring us closer to that day,” said Jacob. “Thank you, Darlene, for your generous donation.”

• Expanded use of GPS, the county’s Take Me Home registry and other efforts to address incidents of wandering by those with Alzheimer’s. Several high-profile cases of wandering involving Alzheimer’s patients have been reported in San Diego County this year. At least two of the incidents ended in death.

• Develop the region’s first clinical standards for the screening, diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Michael Lobatz with Scripps Health and Dr. Nick Yphantides with the county Health and Human Services Agency are teaming up with healthcare system executives and physicians on the issue.

• Boost training for those who work with Alzheimer’s patients and expand services and support for those with the disease and their caregivers.

In a separate but related issue, the Board of Supervisors were scheduled later today to consider an item from Supervisor Greg Cox and Chairwoman Jacob in support of a new memory care unit at the Veterans Home complex in Chula Vista. 

“Our veterans were there for us when we needed them,” said Supervisor Cox. “We need to be there for them when they need us most!” 

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