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Dear Hero: New Alzheimer’s support group participants ‘remember’ D-Day vets in heartfelt letters for upcoming 3-day Honor Flight

July 14, 2014

STUART – Fear follows every disease diagnosis. But finding out you have Alzheimer’s or dementia is uniquely frightening, leaving people not only worried about losing their future, but also losing all connection to their past.

Today, more than 5 million Americans suffer from memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers with the Alzheimer’s Association project cases to nearly triple, impacting 14 million Americans by 2050.

To help people with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones enjoy quality time and better prepare to provide care as the condition worsens, Visiting Nurse Association of Florida has launched “VNA Memory Café.”


In recognition of June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and as a precursor to the Memory Care Center, VNA of Florida will offer when its assisted living community Grand Oaks of Jensen Beach opens in August, VNA Memory Café meets bimonthly in Jensen. The support group invites participants to share personal stories, practice brain-training exercises and enjoy social engagement outings around town as part of its Travel Troupe.


A recent Memory Café activity is sure to provide encouragement to a group of Americans whose service will never be forgotten. Support group participants recently wrote thank you letters to veterans going on the June 5-7 Honor Flight.

The three-day Southeast Florida Honor Flight is exclusively carrying D-Day veterans for the 70th anniversary of the famed invasion. Veterans typically open letters from family, friends and community contributors such as those from the VNA Memory Café during “mail call” on the return flight home.

Nancy Ginden, the group leader of VNA Memory Cafe, helped participants relearn the basics of properly formatting a letter.

“Our members, many who are veterans themselves, took a real liking to this project,” said Ginden. “Not only did it serve as a cognitive exercise, but it also allowed them to participate in Honor Flight along with fellow troops.”


Many addressed their letters “Dear Hero” or “Dear Soldier” expressing feelings of gratitude, admiration and respect for the D-Day veterans. Some patients were more personal, starting their letters with “Dear Comrade,” then indicating what branch of the military they served in and for how long.

“As one of the leading medical providers in the community, we understand the importance of delivering both exceptional health care and social services to those in need,” said Donald Crow, CEO of the VNA of Florida. “The VNA Memory Café focuses on mentally stimulating Alzheimer’s patients while keeping them connected with their families and the community.”

VNA Memory Café meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at Hoke Library at 1150 N.W. Jack Williams Way in Jensen Beach.  For more information, please call (772) 286-1844.


About VNA of Florida     

The Visiting Nurse Association of Florida is an award-winning, non-profit Medicare certified agency that specializes in providing accessible health care to people in need. Since its foundation in 1976, VNA of Florida continues to expand its services, currently treating patients in 14 counties, including Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.


VNA of Florida offers a multitude of home-healthcare services such as personal care assistance, physical therapy, skilled nursing, medication management and respite care. Now, through its new venture, the Visiting Physicians of the Treasure Coast (VPTC), patients who have trouble getting to their doctor can receive personalized physician care in the comfort of their home. VPTC collaborates with patient’s primary physician ensuring an accurate continuum of care until the patient is able to return to the office visit setting.


The agency also operates two assisted living communities. Grand Oaks of Okeechobee began housing residents in 2010, and Grand Oaks of Jensen Beach will open its doors later this summer.


For more information, please call Ike Crumpler at (772) 201-9996 or Courtney Zanetti.

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