NEW YORK, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is pressing to raise Alzheimer's disease to an unprecedented level of awareness by holding the nation's first Alzheimer's disease telethon on December 4 and simultaneously calling on Americans to urge President Obama and Congress to declare a "decade of care."
AFA's "Together for Care" telethon rallies leading celebrities and media personalities around the cause to offer information and hope to families nationwide. Hosted by Al Roker of the "Today" show, the entertainment-packed and education-rich event will air on NBC local stations in 16 major markets along with NBC's new 24-hour local lifestyle and news channel, Nonstop, in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. It will also be telecast online for national viewing at www.alzfdn.org.
AFA today announced the final lineup for the one-hour, star-studded telethon. Musical guests are Shontelle, singing her Billboard hit, "Impossible"; Kris Allen, winner of American Idol season 8, performing an acoustic version of his hit, "Live Like We're Dying," Wilson Phillips, who recently reunited to record their first-ever holiday CD and will perform their legendary single, "Hold On"; and emerging country artist Brett Eldredge, whose powerful Top 40 single "Raymond" was inspired by his own grandmother's memory loss.
Led by actor Hector Elizondo, AFA's honorary celebrity chairman, the show includes appearances by Scott Adsit, Lidia Bastianich, Joy Bauer, Nikki Blonsky, Katrina Bowden, Grizz Chapman, Hope Dworaczyk, Jill Eikenberg, Elmo, Steve Guttenberg, Carl Lewis, Natalie Morales, Michael Tucker and Wendy Williams. A roster of prominent celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres and Donald Trump, will present calls to action.
Coinciding with the Alzheimer's disease telethon, AFA is encouraging Americans to sign a petition urging President Obama and Congress to declare a "decade of care" for individuals with dementia and their families.
"In the absence of a realistic short term prospect for a cure," the petition calls for "creating a comprehensive strategy that includes competent, cost-effective care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and support and training for their family caregivers." Specifically, it urges increased federal research funding, a national prevention and early detection plan, an expanded geriatrics workforce and training, creation of a seamless continuum of care, and training and respite care for family caregivers.
For details about the telethon, including show times, and to sign the petition, visit www.alzfdn.org.
"We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to Alzheimer's disease," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO. "Our hope is that these efforts will catapult the nation into realizing that Alzheimer's disease is in the future for too many American families, and that now is the time for all of us to intensely focus on care and cure. This healthcare crisis must be a national priority."
Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions. AFA's strategy comes as the nation braces for an expected onslaught of cases of Alzheimer's disease as a result of the aging population, including the first wave of baby boomers who turn 65 next year. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the brain disorder, with the incidence of dementia doubling every five years beyond age 65. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The telethon will provide insight from experts into the current state of Alzheimer's disease, and shed light on the daily challenges faced by families, including those caring for individuals with a rare form of the disease, called young onset, that affects people under age 65.
Hall said he is especially grateful for the generous involvement of celebrities, including many whose own family members have been affected by Alzheimer's disease.
"Their desire to give back is heartwarming and reflects a growing recognition of the widespread impact of this disease," he said.
Among the emotion-filled performances, Allen performs against a background of heartfelt quilts from the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's Quilt to Remember.
"I felt privileged that the Alzheimer's Foundation of America asked me to be a part of the Together for Care telethon," said Allen, whose cousin's grandmother had the disease. "It is extremely heartbreaking for those diagnosed with this disease and their surrounding loved ones. I can only hope that my participation in this telethon will help raise awareness for such a worthy cause."
For other celebrity participants, the cause also has personal significance. Actress and singer Shirley Jones sends out a compelling message to viewers, reminding them that "care makes all the difference." Her "sweet aunt" had Alzheimer's disease.
Noting her hopes for the telethon, she said, "The 'objective' of all 'information exposure' is to raise the public's awareness of the topic—in this case, the total devastation that an Alzheimer's diagnosis carries with it."
In addition to watching the telethon, AFA is encouraging the public to get involved by sharing tributes to loved ones on AFA's Facebook discussion page; bidding on items in AFA's online auction; and purchasing telethon-related products available on its e-Store at www.alzfdn.org; among them, a T-shirt that spreads the message, "I Care."
For more details about the telethon, including air times, visit www.alzfdn.org or call 866-232-8484. Eisai Inc., a human health care company, is the telethon's platinum sponsor. The show is produced by Al Roker Entertainment.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York whose mission is to provide optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, and their families. It unites more than 1,400 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional and practical needs of families in their local communities. AFA's services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America