Alzheimer’s Ambassadors help create state plan

Posted By: Megan Conway

Vital people in the fight against Alzheimer’s are volunteer Ambassadors. They’re the ones connecting directly with members of Congress on what’s needed and have recently made big progress in our state.

"The day that her Alzheimer’s spiraled to hospice level care, the next morning I drove to the Alzheimer’s Association and said I wanted to volunteer," says Ann Tillery, Alzheimer’s Ambassador.

"Certainly, caught us off guard. I was not thinking Alzheimer’s, none of us were, but we immediately realized we needed to get involved," says Brad Anderson, Alzheimer’s Ambassador.

Ann and Brad both had their lives changed by Alzheimer’s. Ann’s mother passed away in 2015 and Brad’s wife is one of 33,000 Nebraskans currently fighting the disease. That number is bigger than the population of Kearney.

"That’s a fairly significant population base that needs services badly," says Senator Al Davis.

Davis teamed up with Ann, Brad and others to create a state plan for Nebraska to better help those struggling with the disease. It was put into effect in May of this year. Before that, we were one of only five states without a plan.

"The role of the Ambassador is so rewarding in that you get to affect public policy and you actually feel like you are changing the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease through interactions with our members of Congress," says Ann.

And they have more plans on the way.

"We’re also pushing for something called a ‘silver alert,’ kind of like an amber alert, but this would be for people with dementia and for other mental reasons," says Brad.

This alert would help find people who have wandered off and may be confused; something that could be very beneficial for Nebraska’s aging population.

"Nebraska needs to be ready for the baby boomers, or the silver tsunami as they are referred to, but a lot of people getting a lot older, really quickly, and can we deal with that?" says Davis.

Again, the "Walk to End Alzheimer’s" is this Sunday, September 18th, at 1 p.m. at Holmes Lake in Lincoln.