The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) will kick off its 2020 national Educating America Tour at the University of New Mexico on Feb. 25.

The event aims to educate New Mexico residents about the disease, brain health and caregiving for those with either dementia or Alzheimer's.

The amount of people affected by Alzheimer's disease in New Mexico would be the largest town in the state outside of the Albuquerque metro area.



"More than 41,000 New Mexico residents are living with Alzheimer's disease. Many others are caring for a family member with Alzheimer's," AFA President and Chief Executive Officer Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. said in a press release. "As those numbers grow, it's critically important to connect people with information that can help them if Alzheimer's enters their lives."

An additional 108,000 people are unpaid caregivers for a loved one with Alzheimer's, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, "Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior."

"Often people think of Alzheimer's as a disease that only impacts senior citizens," AFA Director of Communications Chris Schneider said. "And that's not the case, because while a vast majority of people who live with it are senior citizens, it affects everybody in the family."

Schneider said a lot of children in families impacted by the disease — either with a parent or grandparent living with Alzheimer's — take on the caregiving role. He also pointed out the conference could be useful to nurses, doctors and other medical professionals.

"There is something for everyone here; that’s why we're coming to New Mexico," Schneider said.

Throughout the Educating America Tour, several speakers will offer presentations on various topics concerning memory loss and dementia. The New Mexico conference informative sessions include "Unraveling Alzheimer's Disease," "Creating your Long-Term Care Team" and "Innovative Activities – Preserving Functional Ability."

"It's a growing health issue, and we want to make sure that people have access to information and know about Alzheimer's disease," Schneider said. "But also learn things that can help them, whether they're a caregiver, whether they have a family member affected by the disease or even if they just want to learn about how to be more proactive with their own brain health."

The event will also include free memory screenings.

The AFA Educating America Tour will be free and open to the public; however, the event organizers encouraged registration. The event will be held on Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom C.

"We were founded by a caregiver, and we are very focused on providing support services and education to people as well as funding research towards a cure," Schneider said. "And we just hope that again people come out to this and learn and get involved and really use knowledge as a tool of empowerment."

After stopping in New Mexico, the tour will continue across several states including Colorado, Montana, Utah, Michigan, Arkansas and New York.

Registration for the event can be found on AFA's website, www.alzfdn.org.

Makayla Grijalva is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria