SOURCE: Alzheimer's Foundation of America

December 05, 2013 15:24 ET

Alzheimer's Foundation of America and Second Wind Dreams Team Up to Help Fulfill Dreams for People With Dementia

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 05, 2013) - As people across the country are finalizing their holiday wish lists, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) and Second Wind Dreams (SWD) are teaming up to help make the dreams of people with Alzheimer's disease or related illnesses a reality. "The AFA-SWD Sleeping Dreamers Project" kicks off December 10, with the fulfillment of dreams on the same day for three elders with dementia in Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York.

The care-focused nonprofit organizations will award a minimum of two dreams per month for the next year to individuals with dementia, under a grant provided by AFA. The dreams allow a person to relive a fond experience or satisfy a long-time desire expressed to family or professional caregivers.

When his dream takes place on December 10, Las Vegas resident Jim Manchester, 91, hopes to reel in "the big one" during an outing on Lake Mead. An avid fisherman in his younger days, he is in declining cognitive and physical health, and hasn't gone fishing in 20 years. Accompanied by a pro from the local Bass Pro Shops, Manchester will go on a father-son fishing trip so he can recapture the feeling of his glory days.

Meanwhile, in New York, Ola Hightower, 76, will also take to the water. She always fantasized about learning how to swim -- an activity that passed her by, she said, simply, because "I didn't live near water." As one of her daughters looks on, Hightower will take her very first swimming lesson at the Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn, N.Y. She will also be honored with a special celebration and swimming award at the adult day center she attends.

And in Atlanta, Darwin Strickland, a former jazz drummer and U.S. postal worker, will realize his desire to once again bang out some tunes on the club circuit. AFA and SWD have arranged for the 75-year-old Strickland to perform at the iconic music venue, Blind Willie's Bar and Restaurant in Atlanta, along with members of the Atlanta Symphony and other jazz musicians.

Since its founding 16 years ago, SWD has brought some 16,000 dreams to life for elders. The collaboration with AFA brings the program to another level, enabling the fulfillment of even more dreams and focusing specifically on people with dementia; SWD fondly calls them "sleeping dreamers."

"Humanizing the treatment of people with dementia shows faith in the human spirit, that no matter how severe the decline, there is hope always," said P.K. Beville, SWD's founder and an award-winning geriatric specialist. "In demonstrations where people with dementia experience a recreated favorite memory, the seemingly confused and withdrawn person 'wakes up' as the dream unfolds, often actively engaging family and professional caregivers."

Carol Steinberg, AFA's president, said the initiative aligns with AFA's mission to improve quality of life for people with dementia and their families. "Granting these wishes, even ones that may seem simple, empowers recipients to live in the moment, and experience much-deserved joy and dignity," she said. "It's never too late."

Currently, more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. The disease results in loss of memory and other cognitive functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Under the AFA-SWD Sleeping Dreamers Project, organizations that are members of both AFA and SWD, such as Alzheimer's agencies, senior centers and elder care communities, can apply to fulfill dreams for their clients or community members.

About Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA)

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national non-profit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line staffed by licensed social workers, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484, visit, follow us on Twitter (@alzfdn), and "like" us on Facebook (

About Second Wind Dreams

Second Wind Dreams is an international, nonprofit organization committed to changing the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams and educational programs that help caregivers understand the physical and mental challenges facing those with Dementia. Founded in 1997, SWD is recognized as the first in the nation to focus on enhancing the quality of life for elders and changing society's perception of seniors by making dreams come true. Affiliated with more than 500 elder care communities across the country, Second Wind Dreams® has made thousands of dreams come true for seniors. For more information about Second Wind Dreams®, visit, follow us on Twitter (@SecondWindDream), and "like" us on Facebook (

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