Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently announced she has been diagnosed with dementia and potentially Alzheimer’s disease. The news has thrown the disease into the spotlight at a time when an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease and by 2050, is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Chances are, you probably know someone who has been affected by it in

some way.

What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Dementia is the loss of intellectual functions such as thinking, remembering and reasoning to the point that it interferes with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease in itself, rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or physical conditions.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

Available services

Whether you’ve been personally diagnosed or if you provide daily care, participate in decision-making or simply care about someone with the disease, help and support are available. No one should have to face Alzheimer’s disease alone. There are programs and services available to help.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) offers assessment, case management, counseling, advocacy and resource referrals for any Jewish older adult living in the greater Phoenix area. If someone has symptoms of cognitive impairment, JFCS works with various agencies in the Valley to ensure individuals are safe and receiving the best possible quality of care. Whether it’s following up on a personal request or responding to a telephone inquiry from a loved one out of the area, JFCS is able to assess the situation and find the appropriate response. This can include home assessments and when needed, implementing a call to action with the appropriate intervention.

In addition to assessment and advocacy services, the JFCS Memory Café is a meeting place for those with changes in their thinking or memory, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder. Memory Café meets on the first Thursday of the month at Beth El Congregation. It offers meaningful activities led by professional artists. Meetings are held at the same location each month and include enriching and fun activities to engage participants, stimulating their minds and bodies. Socialization is a key component of the Memory Café, as it is meant to be a place to relax, meet others and have fun.

When faced with dementia, know there is life beyond the diagnosis. Surrounding yourself with a strong support system allows you to maintain balance in your life. The staff at JFCS is here to help. JN

Ellie Schwartzberg, LPC, is vice president of Older Adults and Jewish Community Services at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. More information about the JFCS Memory Café and other senior programs and services is available at or by calling 602-452-4627.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.