BUFFALO, N.Y. (August 21, 2023) — The Western New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will offer a Dementia Community Forum especially for the veteran community on Thurs., September 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Buffalo VA Medical Center, located at 3495 Bailey Ave. in Buffalo. The event is being held in partnership with the VA Caregiver Support Program. Registration is available online at bit.ly/VetForum0907 or by calling 800.272.3900.

“More than 450,000 American veterans have Alzheimer’s — and as the population ages, that number is expected to grow,” says Courtney Sipes, the WNY Chapter’s director of community engagement. “Our forum is intended to assist veterans who may be experiencing memory loss and/or have been diagnosed with dementia, their care partners, as well as any service providers who support veterans and their families. We want to hear about gaps in resources and how we can fill them to better support the veteran community and their loved ones.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, veterans and military members face a higher risk for developing dementia than the civilian population. The reasons behind include higher rates of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are both linked to increased risks of developing certain types of dementia. More than one in five combat wounds from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq involved brain injuries.

The increasing number of veterans with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to place a heavy burden on the VA health care system. For example:

  • Veterans with dementia are 2.6 times more likely to be hospitalized than other veterans — and hospital stays are, on average, 2.4 times longer.
  • The average number of outpatient psychiatric visits is three times greater among veterans with dementia than veterans without.
  • More than 60% of the VA’s costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s are for nursing home care.

Robin Hodges, a U.S. Naval Intelligence veteran and chief operations and impact officer for Buffalo’s African American Veterans Monument, urges veterans and their care partners to attend the Community Forum. “As a veteran and former caregiver myself, I recognize the immense value of such a program for our community,” she says. “The Veterans Dementia Community Forum will provide a platform for us to come together, share our stories and learn from one another. It is a beacon of understanding and support for veterans who may be facing dementia themselves or caring for loved ones with the condition.”

Hodges recently joined the WNY Chapter’s Board of Directors and praises the help she received from them in her caregiving journey. “The Alzheimer’s Association played a pivotal role in my journey as a caregiver for my mother. Their education programs and support groups not only equipped me with practical knowledge but also offered a safe space to connect with others who were navigating similar challenges. The unique needs of veterans in caregiving situations (like my WWII veteran father and I) were recognized and addressed, making the Alzheimer’s Association an invaluable resource,” she says.

For more information about the Veterans Dementia Community Forum, contact Sipes at CLSipes@alz.org or call 716.626.0600 ext. 2044.