Organizational Information

The Greater Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has served the Atlanta metro area since 1982. The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter merged in July 2002 to serve the entire state by combining the Greater Georgia, Central Georgia, and Augusta chapters. The goals of the Georgia Chapter remain consistent with those of our national office: advancing research, enhancing care and support, raising public awareness, and building capacity.

Coming together as one statewide chapter has allowed the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter to reach more people both effectively and efficiently. We have seven regional offices, along with our state office in Atlanta. Our staff of 40 serve all 159 counties in the state of Georgia. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Georgians have Alzheimer’s and nearly 500,000 others are adversely affected through their roles as caregivers. Throughout 2008 our Chapter provided assistance to more than 113,000 family members struggling with Alzheimer’s, and offered both professional and family educational programs to more than 11,800 individuals. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research and promotion of brain health, while simultaneously enhancing care and support for all individuals, their families, and caregivers. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Based on our Chapter’s fiscal year 2009 year end summary of Core Services and Quality Evaluations, Atlanta consistently ranks a number one leader in Programs and Services out of our 73 chapters throughout the United States. Some of the Programs and Services that our Chapter offers are as follows:

Helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 140 languages by our highly trained staff.

 Family Activities include but are not limited to Rendezvous at the Booth Western Art Museum, Connections with Art, Next Step, and Forget Me Nots.

Care Consultations are provided by telephone, e-mail, or in person by our professional staff who are dedicated to helping individuals navigate through the difficult decisions and uncertainties associated with Alzheimer’s.

Support Groups are offered for all individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, groups are facilitated by trained volunteers.

Message boards and chat rooms provide an online community for individuals with Alzheimer’s and caregivers.

Publications are provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, offering a surplus of fact sheets and brochures. We also maintain a variety of educational materials (videos, audiotapes, and books) on topics related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Newsletters devoted to keeping the community apprised of Alzheimer’s are mailed quarterly.

Educational programs are offered each year to address specific interests of the general public, individuals with the disease, and their families.

Professional trainings are offered in classrooms as well as on the web for healthcare supervisors and direct care workers in assisted living and nursing homes.

MedicAlert® + Safe Return® are our enrollment programs dedicated to aiding individuals who wander.

Local resources and referrals are maintained as well as updated information on home care, adult day care, care coordination, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, eldercare lawyers, and transportation available in the community. This enables our staff and trained professionals to assess whether a specific care provider meets the needs of an individual with Alzheimer’s.

Driving Assessment Centers play a key role in taking pressure off family members—a list of Driving Assessment Centers within Georgia is included on our website.

Volunteers share their skills and talents, and become part of our team by allowing us to leverage our resources and giving us the maximum potential to provide the best possible service to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

Advocacy plays an imperative role in improving the quality of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families by: working to improve dementia care and services; advancing access to community-based care; developing quality care in residential settings; and expanding funding for research and public programs serving people with dementia.

Our Chapter is lead by President and Chief Executive Officer, Leslie Anderson, who has been with the Association for more than two years, and joins our Chapter from the American Red Cross. Dave Houston pilots our fundraising endeavors as the Vice President of Development and has been a leader in the Association for more than 10 years. Dave has more than 20 years experience raising funds for non profits. Ginny Helms has been with the Chapter for more than 14 years and makes us a number one leader in Programs and Services each year as our Vice President of Chapter Services and Public Policy. Dan Griggs controls our finances as our Vice President of Finance.

Our Chapter uses the Policy Governance model to structure our Board. We adhere to this model when dictating the nominating committee, who examines the needs of our organization and the strategic plans to recruit members for Board representation. Our Governing Board consists of both regional representatives, based in the areas we serve, as well as strategic representation based on our current needs. Our Board meets every two months or six times a year and consists of 21 individuals who are dedicated to providing our Chapter with leadership abilities to enhance our mission.

Within Georgia there are 200,000 individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Of these 200,000, 70 percent wander. The majority of wanderers are found dead no farther than a few miles from their homes, however; if they are found within 24 hours, their chances of survival increase by 50 percent. Individuals with Alzheimer’s wander daily. Currently, there is not an adequate supply of technology to track these individuals prior to their becoming harmed or killed. Driving Assessments have not been instituted by the DOT and occupational therapists used to test individuals on cognitive ability have proved too costly. Standard operating procedures are not established within the majority of jurisdictions, the general public is not educated on Alzheimer’s disease or wandering, and training of rescue teams is insufficient. When wanderers are found, there is often a limited amount of funds to be used as emergency placement leaving these individuals stranded and confused without contact from family or friends. As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, tripling the healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and older. Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. This is the sixth leading cause of death in the country, surpassing diabetes; it is the fifth leading cause of death among individuals 65 and older. From 2000 to 2006, while deaths from other major diseases dropped – heart disease (-11.5 percent), breast cancer (-.6 percent), prostate cancer (-14.3 percent) and stroke (-18.1 percent), deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rose 47.1 percent. The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid, and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year. By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

“With the country facing unprecedented economic challenges and a rapidly aging baby boomer population, now is the time to address the burgeoning Alzheimer crisis that triples healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and over,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association CEO.  

Medic Alert/Safe Return

Currently the Alzheimer’s Association uses Safe Return/Medic Alert to help find wanderers. This procedure involves an identity bracelet allowing individuals to be traced back to their families once they are found.

Driving Assessment

Research shows that for the first two years after diagnosis, the accident rate of a person with Alzheimer’s disease is comparable to a person who does not have Alzheimer’s. However, as the disease progresses, the accident rate increases. Therefore there is a grey area when determining the time to take an individual’s driving ability away. According to Ginny Helms, Vice President of Programs and Public Policy, “The best way to determine if it is time to take away the keys is to have the individual with Alzheimer’s tested by an occupational therapist with specific training and experience in evaluating drivers with dementia.”


If Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were developed within all 159 Georgia counties the percentages of finding individuals who wander would increase by x amount. Currently, there are only x number of jurisdictions within the state of Georgia who have a SOP. By establishing this procedure, our goal would be to decrease the amount of deaths we have witnessed over this year and reunite wanderers safely to their families within a 24 hour time frame.

Public Awareness Campaign

Presently, there is no treatment available to slow or stop the deterioration of brain cells in Alzheimer’s individuals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved five drugs that temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about six to 12 months. A number of experimental therapies are in clinical testing in human volunteers. However, the majority of the public is in the dark about these treatments.

Despite the current lack of disease-modifying therapies, studies have consistently shown that active medical management of Alzheimer’s can significantly improve the quality of life throughout all stages of the disease. Through our Public Awareness Campaign we will be able to educate the general public about the medical management of Alzheimer’s, ensuring a better life for those who suffer with it. Since the field of Alzheimer’s disease research is evolving rapidly, it is important to not ignore these early warning features because the earlier we intervene, the better. At present this intervention includes education and knowledge.

Law Enforcement Training

Currently we are training law enforcement across the state of Georgia on best practices when finding wanderers. Kim Franklin, Safe Return Manager teaches x number of classes a week to x number of law enforcement members. Since there are x number of jurisdictions and x number of law enforcement still to be trained, we need to up this number to make sure that each jurisdiction is adequately prepared in a wandering situation.

Emergency Placement

Wanderers who are found normally do not know where they have wandered from. For instances such as these, we need an emergency placement fund to keep them safe until their family is found. Hospitals who find wanderers normally do not have a SOP in these situations; therefore individuals are normally released with only the Alzheimer’s Association to provide care. For this reason we are in need of emergency placement funds to secure their safety until their family is found. This normally takes approximately x amount of time to make sure these individuals are safe.

Project Description


Our goal is to reduce the number of deaths associated with wandering throughout the state of Georgia by 75 percent during the year 2010.


Our project’s objective is to increase the education of Alzheimer’s disease and wandering, while simultaneously decreasing wandering deaths by 75 percent in Georgia during 2010. We will accomplish this by using a Certified Driving Assessment Specialist, who will set up appointments at our regional offices. Search and rescue teams, police officers, Community Service Response Teams (CERTs), Emergency Medical Centers (EMCs) and Fire Departments (FDs) will be trained throughout Georgia in all 159 counties efficiently by Kim Franklin, Safe Return Manager, along with 17 retired FBI agents. We will launch a Public Awareness Campaign to educate the public about wandering and Alzheimer’s.  A Mattie’s Call Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be initiated within all 159 Georgia counties. Medic Alert/Safe Return bracelets available to Alzheimer’s individuals will increase by 50 percent. Emergency placement for 10 individuals will be placed aside for the use of wanderer’s in need.  


Beth Gibson, Certified Driving Assessment Specialist will travel across the state to assess individual’s cognitive abilities. Beth will be using our regional Alzheimer’s Offices, which are located in Atlanta, Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Macon, and Savannah for appointments. Beth will have approximately X of appointments a week. Based on the current number of Alzheimer’s patients who have been tested for cognitive ability, 1%, we estimate that we will need X to secure testing for these individuals who are unable to afford the assessment.

Our trainings will increase by 50 percent during the year 2010 to 209 training, which will incorporate the entire state of Georgia. Trainings will be conducted by Kim Franklin, Safe Returns Manager, as well as 17 retired FBI agents. These FBI agents will be trained by Harold Copeland for two consecutive days. They will then travel across the state of Georgia to teach trainings to search and rescue teams, police officers, CERTs, EMCs, and FDs.

Our public awareness campaign will be launched through Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia (OAAG), a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to assisting non-profits with public service programs throughout the state of Georgia. Campaigns will be posted on three billboards in the Atlanta area and 30 boards across the state. This will be combined with a magazine campaign, which was compiled by TG Madison, targeting adults 50+ throughout Georgia.

Mattie’s call will be implemented within all 159 Georgia counties by establishing SOP within each jurisdiction.

Medic Alert/Safe Return bracelets will be given to Alzheimer’s individuals who are who are in the second stage of wandering. These are the individuals most at risk for wandering, therefore most in need.

Emergency placement funds will be set aside by Ginny Helms, Vice President of Programs and Public Policy and designated for use only when wanderers are in need of safe housing.


Driving Assessment Training will begin when funds are established. Beth Gibson has agreed to use our regional offices to assess individuals, and will begin taking appointments within these areas when funds are established.

We will begin the trainings as soon as grant funds are established. Harold has spoken with each of the 17 retired FBI agents and they are available for the two day training at any time.

The Public Awareness Campaign is ready to launch when we have the funds and will be posted approximately one year.

We will begin calling each of the 159 Georgia counties to establish SOP when we set aside funds. This will take X amount of time to make these calls. SOP should be established within X amount of time.

Individuals have already been earmarked for Medic Alert/Safe Return. When we have the funds available for these bracelets, we will give them out immediately.

Emergency placement is ready immediately, as we have confused individuals who are found daily.


Driving assessments are needed within each jurisdiction to keep individuals who are unsafe to drive off the roads. When individuals are not assessed they become a hazard to themselves and other drivers. It is estimated that of the percentage of accidents reported by the DDS, 80 percent are Alzheimer’s and Dementia related, and only 1 percent of these individuals has been assessed.

With our increase in search and rescue trainings, individuals will be found in a timely manner, within the 24 hour window, eliminating injury or even death. This will also enable each jurisdiction to be better prepared when people wander.

The Public Awareness Campaign will educate individuals on wandering and current medical advances associated with Alzheimer’s disease, thus allowing patients to live a much more comfortable life.

Mattie’s call will prove successful within each jurisdiction it is introduced in, decreasing the amount of time an Alzheimer’s individual wanders.

Safe Return/Medic Alert is currently working for individuals who wander; therefore increasing the abundance of these bracelets will only aid in our mission.

Emergency placement funds will help individuals feel at ease and safe until they are once again with their families.

Staffing and Administration

Kim Franklin, Safe Return Manager will continue our trainings during this project. We will use 17 retired FBI agents, trained by Harold to assist Kim with the increase in volume of the trainings. Volunteers will contact each jurisdiction about their Standard Operating Procedure and Mattie’s Call. Dave Houston, Vice President of Development will work with Wesley Logue, Distinguished Gifts Officer, on the Public Awareness Campaign. Ginny Helms, Vice President of Programs and Public Policy will identity individuals in need of Medic Alert/Safe Return and emergency placement.


Caregivers will be surveyed after the Driving Assessment to evaluate their level of security in their patient’s driving capability.   

Kim Franklin and FBI agents will pass out surveys after each training to determine how well equipped each trained individual feels about search and rescue.

TG Madison will measure the success of the Public Awareness Campaign.

Based on the establishment of Mattie’s Call within each jurisdiction, search and rescue teams will be surveyed on how they feel about the success of this SOP.

Safe Return/Medic Alert bracelets will be evaluated based on the amount of time each wanderer was found.

 Emergency placement evaluation will include the number of police jurisdictions that are aware of where to take an individual if they are found wandering.

Sustainability 1.      Ginny Helms began forming relationships with each DDS in x. At this time, she is continuing to build these relationships and we anticipate the counties to pay for this service in the future. Medical Report Forms have been updated and the DDS is going to work closely with Ginny to push this through. Ginny has also worked closely with the Georgia Medial Care Foundation to secure grant money to educate physicians on the evaluation of Alzheimer’s individuals. 2.      Ginny and Kim Franklin are working to get POST training put on the mandates for all jurisdictions in Georgia. This would require search and rescue teams, police officers, CERTs, EMCs, and FDs to participate in our trainings at least once a year, thus eliminating our need to train and send individuals to jurisdictions. 3.      Dave Houston has built solid relationships with employees at TG Madison over the years. If the campaign is successful as anticipated, they have agreed to donate x.4.      If SOP are established within each jurisdiction, the search and rescue teams will have a solid place to start from in the future. This will sustain itself. 5.      By getting second stage wanderers Medic Alert/Safe Return, we will be eliminating the problems of wandering. 6.      Emergency Placement will be sustained by each jurisdiction becoming aware of where Alzheimer’s wanderers should be taken when they are found.




Alzheimer’s Association

Wandering Project Expense Budget Fiscal Year 2010


Personnel Costs                                 Annual Costs              Project %        Amount


Kim Franklin, Safe Return Manager   $1                                1%


Total Personnel Costs:                                                          $X


Other Costs

Driving Assessment:                                                                                      $ (1)

Law Enforcement Training:                                                                            $ (2)

Public Awareness Campaign:                                                                         $ (3)

SOP:                                                                                                              $ (4)

Medic Alert/Safe Return:                                                                                $ (5)    

Emergency Placement:                                                                                  $ (6)


Total Direct Costs:                                                                                         $X

Administrative Costs/Overhead:                                                                    $X


Total Costs:                                                                                                    $X



Budget Narrative:

(1)    Driving Assessment includes x scholarships for individuals in the second stage of Alzheimer’s who are unable to afford this testing.

(2)    Law enforcement trainings include search and rescue teams, police officers, and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), Emergency Medical Centers (EMCs), and Fire Departments (FD).

(3)    Public Awareness Campaign will include 3 billboards within the Atlanta area and 30 billboards across the state. This will be combined with an aggressive magazine campaign targeting adults 50+ within the Georgia area.

(4)    Standard Operating Procedures will be devised within all 159 Georgia counties.

(5)    Medic Alert/Safe Return cost will include 500 bracelets for individuals at most risk for wandering.

(6)    Emergency Placement costs will host 10 nights for individuals.