The Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia Center at UMMC not only performs research on Alzheimer’s disease, but through its clinic it also offers outpatient treatment and diagnosis for those with memory loss and cognitive decline.
The Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia Center at UMMC not only performs research on Alzheimer’s disease, but through its clinic it also offers outpatient treatment and diagnosis for those with memory loss and cognitive decline.
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MIND Center, Alzheimer's MS: 'new chapter' in dementia fight

Published on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

By: Gary Pettus, gpettus@umc.edu

Two prominent advocates for Mississippians with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have forged a new covenant, ensuring that expert support will reach more of these patients and their families.

With what is called an expanded partnership, The MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center will now deliver many of the services and programs of Alzheimer's Mississippi, an organization whose labors have helped residents in every corner of the state.

Alzheimer's Mississippi logo.
Based in Ridgeland, Alzheimer’s Mississippi provides services and support for patients, caregivers and families in all of Mississippi’s 82 counties.

TJ Harvey, executive director of Alzheimer’s Mississippi, is among the non-profit’s staff who will consult with The MIND (Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia) Center during this transition.

Effective immediately, The MIND Center will begin putting its stamp on the work Alzheimer’s Mississippi has done on behalf of caregivers, education and family support since 1990.

Portrait of Dr. Tom Mosley

“These programs will gain from our expertise, while The MIND Center gains the statewide reach enjoyed by Alzheimer’s Mississippi,” said Dr. Thomas Mosley, Robbie and Dudley Hughes Distinguished MIND Center Chair and director of The MIND Center.

“A lot of The MIND Center’s caregiver efforts have been relatively local, and one of our goals is to be less Jackson-centric. This will benefit more people across Mississippi.”

Portrait of Denise Lafferty

Through this alliance, the number of families The MIND Center will touch will triple, said Denise Lafferty, its chief strategy and operations officer. “We will be able to support almost 15,000 Mississippians by combining our efforts with Alzheimer’s Mississippi.”

To be clear, Alzheimer’s Mississippi and the Alzheimer's Association Mississippi Chapter are not one and the same. “And the latter has also been, and will continue to be, a strategic partner of The MIND Center,” Lafferty said.

“The MIND Center has collaborated with Alzheimer’s Mississippi for many years, supporting individuals and families battling these diseases.”

Over the past year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact, Alzheimer’s Mississippi searched for new approaches to best serve their families and constituents, she said.

 “That encouraged them to think about how they could best continue and grow the programs they have been providing for years, and that’s when we began to explore an enhanced partnership.

“They knew that by partnering with The MIND Center, we would be able to continue these valuable services and leverage our resources to make them even stronger.”

Statistics show what’s at stake: In Mississippi, in 2020, 57,000 people 65 and older had Alzheimer’s disease, a type of progressive, irreversible dementia that lays waste to memory, thinking and behavior. The total is expected to reach 65,000 by 2025.

In 2018, more than 1,500 Mississippians died from Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death in the state. Across the country today, the disease afflicts more than five million Americans.

Because of hospital stays, the likelihood of other chronic conditions, skilled nursing facility stays and other adult services, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the country an estimated $305 billion in 2020.

One of the most important ways to soften the burden of Alzheimer’s concerns caregivers.

“The MIND Center continues to make progress in our studies of dementia,” Mosley said. This is particularly true when it comes to preventive measures, he said, “and with our goal to deliver cutting-edge diagnosis and therapies. But there is still no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. So, helping those who take care of loved ones through this long journey is key. It’s been a major focus for us, as it has for Alzheimer’s Mississippi.

“This will allow us to broaden that focus statewide.”

This includes offering training and advice to the leaders of the 35 support groups linked with Alzheimer’s Mississippi, Lafferty said. “Our staff and faculty who are part of The MIND Center team will be able to provide guidance and education to the family caregivers in these groups.”

The MIND Center and Alzheimer’s Mississippi had already worked together in such joint programs as Art in MIND, Nourish Your Noggin', the Alzheimer’s State Plan and more.

Under the new arrangement, The MIND Center will host the Sante’ South Wine Festivalᵀᴹ, the largest fund raising event for Alzheimer’s Mississippi, along with their 5K race, Run Now, Wine Later.

“By redirecting their support and gifts to the MIND Center, prior donors and sponsors of Alzheimer’s Mississippi can continue to advance the programs and services they previously supported while helping to accelerate The MIND Center’s groundbreaking Alzheimer’s research right here in Mississippi,” Lafferty said.

“The annual caregiver conference put on each fall by Alzheimer’s Mississippi in Jackson, drawing up to 300 attendees, will go on as well, as will individual and family counseling, and community education.”

Portrait of TJ Harvey

And, of course, The MIND Center will keep up its own distinctive programs and services, including the statewide Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias; Caregiver University; the Mind Matters Series; its caregiver support groups, as well as its telehealth program, TeleMIND, which enlists UMMC’s geriatric providers in the delivery of dementia care to patients at hospitals or clinics across the state.

“While closing the doors of Alzheimer’s Mississippi ends an impactful chapter for the organization, their legacy will love on through the partnership with The MIND Center,” Lafferty said.

For his part, Harvey said that moving his organization’s range of programs to The MIND Center’s management begins “a new chapter” in serving the Alzheimer’s community in Mississippi.

“We will pull ahead and be stronger together in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”