Making sense of the past and present; understanding our emotions; recognizing and connecting with those around us. Alzheimer's Disease makes these essential, everyday challenges increasingly difficult and eventually impossible for the over 5 million Americans currently affected. They experience the fear and confusion of drifting out into space as their loved ones watch and often feel unprepared to grapple with their slow departure. By 2050, 20 million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer's. Future caregivers and advocates will need specialized communication skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy rooted in experience to face this silent epidemic.
In response to these overwhelming circumstances, National Alzheimer’s Buddies seeks to alleviate the often-overlooked emotional and social challenges that stem from Alzheimer’s by building friendships between college students and Alzheimer’s residents that bring out the beauty of the person still present.
Our volunteers write letters to the families of their buddies, highlighting the positive aspects of their weekly visits, suggesting activities families can do together, and helping reconnect family members with their loved ones. Countless family members and nursing staff testify that participating residents show a decrease in depression and participate more in social activities even outside of visits. Professional training sessions, peer-reflection groups, and weekly journal entries provide volunteers with the resources and community to overcome communication barriers and deeply engage their new friend.
OUR NATIONAL MOVEMENT
We are addressing Alzheimer's across America and developing future leaders and advocates.
Students draw on their training and experience to support their own family members with Alzheimer’s and to serve as Alzheimer's advocates. Alzheimer’s Buddies helps to organize symposia that bring together experts from nursing, business, law, political activism, research, and medicine to help students find ways to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s in their future careers. Volunteers report learning the importance of human connections, of giving a friend or even a stranger one's full attention, of being fully present, and carrying those lessons into their future roles.