Boston Globe (July 11, 2014): Mayor Walsh Announces Boston Alzheimer’s initiative

Publication Date: 
Fri, 07/11/2014

Alzheimer’s disease is a personal issue for Martin J. Walsh.

The Boston mayor remembers his grandmother reverting to childlike behaviors when her children implored her to remember them. She didn’t recognize her children, or her grandchildren, or any of the family members that surrounded her in her Ireland home until she died.

Walsh remembered his late grandmother Friday when he announced Boston’s Alzheimer’s initiative, which includes becoming the first major city to join the national Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance, a group of nearly 2,000 companies and organizations that support employees with information on Alzheimer’s.

Through this membership, city employees will receive “dementia capable” training to better serve the estimated 10,000 Bostonians suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“What we have developed is a comprehensive plan to connect people to the resources they need,” Walsh said at a news conference at Boston Medical Center. “It’s a tough disease for a lot of family members.”

Several members of Walsh’s administration were at the event, all of whom will be involved in improving Alzheimer’s care, he said. They included Sheila Dillon, chief of housing and neighborhood development; Felix Arroyo, chief of health and human services; William Evans, chief of public safety; and Lisa Holmes, superintendent of the Boston Police Department.

“Too many caregivers try to do this alone, and we always say you cannot do Alzheimer’s disease alone,” said James Wessler, president of the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “Alzheimer’s can literally overwhelm a family.”