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Washington, DC —According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 71 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. For these individuals and their families, the significance of this moment cannot be underestimated as it marks the beginning of a devastating descent into memory loss. For the person with Alzheimer's, interaction with the caregiver means everything.
To raise awareness of issues surrounding this dreadful disease and to draw attention to the importance of the caregiver, the U.S. Postal Service will issue 65 million 42-cent Alzheimer's Awareness stamps nationwide beginning on Friday, Oct. 17. The 10 a.m. first-day-of-issue stamp issuance ceremony in Morgantown, WV, at West Virginia University, will highlight the dedication of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute’s new $30 million research center. The Institute is the only non-profit, independent institute in the world exclusively dedicated to studying human memory and memory disorders.
“We have experienced Alzheimer’s in our own family,” said the Vice Chair of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, Carolyn Lewis Gallagher, who will dedicate the stamp. “The hardest part of being their caregiver is watching them try to cope with the embarrassment, the fear and the loss of dignity that this terrible disease causes. After going through that with in our own family, I hope and pray every day that a cure is found soon — before millions more have to face the dreaded diagnosis that they, or a loved one, have Alzheimer’s. I am very proud that the United States Postal Service is helping to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s. It is another opportunity to help educate the American people about important issues. When these stamps go on sale, it will be a way for all Americans to show support for those who battle the disease and for those who care for them.”
Scheduled to join Gallagher in dedicating the stamp Oct. 17 will be Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV); Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute Board Chairman Ralph J. Bean Jr.; and, West Virginia University Interim President Dr. C. Peter Magrath.
“Commemorative stamps do so much more than keep us connected,” said Senator Rockefeller. “They have the power to educate and inspire us. The unveiling of the new Alzheimer's Awareness stamp reminds us that behind every person afflicted with Alzheimer's there are families and friends whose hearts are breaking with each lost memory. This stamp allows all of us to honor the fight against this painful disease — together.”
Alzheimer’s: The Warning Signs
Experts estimate that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. People suffering with Alzheimer’s have trouble carrying out daily activities. The disease initially affects the parts of the brain that control language, thought and memory. It is the most common form of dementia among older people. To help recognize the warning signs, the Alzheimer’s Association has developed a list of the 10 common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Memory loss.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks.
- Problems with language.
- Disorientation to time and place.
- Poor or decreased judgment.
- Problems with abstract thinking.
- Misplacing things.
- Changes in mood or behavior.
- Changes in personality.
- Loss of initiative.
Those interested in more information can contact the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers, the Alzheimer’s Association www.alz.org or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America www.alzfdn.org. For information on the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, visit www.brni.org.
With the issuance of the Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp, the Postal Service continues its long-standing tradition of raising awareness of social issues. Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, worked with illustrator Matt Mahurin of Northport, NY, to create the stamp image.
Recent stamps have highlighted important issues such as adoption and children’s health, literacy, hospice care, breast cancer awareness, AIDS awareness, organ and tissue donation and philanthropy. The Breast Cancer Research stamp is a semipostal stamp authorized by Congress that helped raise funds for research. Social awareness stamps have helped generate conversation about these serious topics in communities from coast to coast. These activities go hand in hand with the Postal Service’s historic role as a community leader.
To see the Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp, go to the Postal Store at http://shop.usps.com, click Stamps and then 42-Cent First-Class. To see other 2008 stamps click Stamps. All current stamps, philatelic products and gift items are available by calling toll free, 800-STAMP-24 or 800-782-6724.
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