November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the Tucson area is already turning purple—the color adopted by the Alzheimer’s Association. Among the locals helping raise awareness and funds for those with Alzheimer’s disease are the residents and staff at Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those age 55 and better located at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
“Splendido has a special partnership with the local Alzheimer’s Association,” says Nancy Boyle, Community Relations Coordinator at Splendido. “Residents and staff members here regularly volunteer their time to raise money or donate their time to help the organization.”
From Wine to Walking
Splendido has traditionally helped out with the Alzheimer’s Association’s biggest fundraising event of the year, Wine to Remember, which is held each spring. “We’ve been a sponsor of the event for the past few years, donating wine and door prizes—and some of us have volunteered for the event as well,” explains Nancy. “This year, we were happy to be able to sponsor the Walk to End Alzheimer’s again, with our biggest team ever!”
On Saturday, October 21, Sonora at Splendido fielded a team of 23 staff members, plus family and friends for the walk and raised more than $2,000. Sonora is the on-site health care center at Splendido and offers memory care as well as assisted living and Medicare-certified skilled nursing.
Morgen Hartford is Southern Arizona Regional Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Desert Southwest Chapter. “We really appreciate not just Splendido’s involvement as a team, but their support in committee work and their sponsorship of our Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year.”
Many who participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s have a personal connection to the disease. That is the case with Marlene Dancil, Connections Coordinator at Splendido, whose mother Maricruz, 78, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008.
Marlene says in the first year or more after her mother’s diagnosis, she called the local Alzheimer’s Association all the time with questions—and they came through every time. “They told me how to set up a house that would be comfortable for her, with a calm color palette and few mirrors,” says Marlene. “They walked me through how to have her caregiver talk to her; and how to talk to my family members.” She explains, “I had some older relatives who didn’t want to believe Maricruz had Alzheimer’s. The staff in the local Alzheimer’s Association office even offered to call them directly to explain the disease!”
When it came time to move Maricruz into a memory care residence, the local Alzheimer’s Association gave Marlene a $1,000 grant to help with the transition. “They sent the money directly to the place she was staying,” explains Marlene. “They also sponsored her for a special Alzheimer’s ID bracelet, which normally costs around $70.”
Paying It Back
Out of gratitude for the guidance and support she’s received, Marlene has participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for four years in a row, and got her family and friends involved too. Her team has raised a lot of money. “I want people to know that the money raised stays local,” she says.
Morgen confirms this, explaining, “We share some funds with the national organization, but the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the largest source of revenue to be able to provide free programs and resources to the people of Southern Arizona.”
People like Marlene at Splendido rely on the resources and information provided by the local office. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Alzheimer’s Association,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done without them. They acted like my family!”
To see more photos of the Sonora at Splendido team that participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year, check out Splendido’s Facebook page at facebook.com/splendidotucson.