The Alzheimer’s Association says the disease is the most expensive condition in the nation, expected to cost Medicare and Medicaid an estimated $150 billion this year. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
Staff members in the offices in Enid, Lawton and McAlester, scheduled to open this year, will focus their efforts on education and services available through the Alzheimer's Association. The association offers services to family caregivers and people in the early stages of the disease, including family care consultations, support groups, a lending library, caregiver classes and workshops.
Satellite offices were needed because more than a third of Oklahoma's population lives outside the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, and resources in rural areas are limited.
There are 23,000 members of the Masonic fraternity in Oklahoma in 223 lodges. Members are from a wide range of ages and occupations and have a special interest in helping senior citizens.
“Our impression is that younger men are starting to seek the fraternity, not necessarily because their fathers were members, but because of their grandfathers,” said Masonic spokesman Jim Tresner.
A legacy of care
In 2007, the Masons awarded a grant to the Oklahoma Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said John L. Logan, executive director of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. A grant has been made every year since. The cumulative amount of funds made available to the agencies is $4.9 million.
In 2009, a $1 million gift was made to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s Alzheimer’s disease research laboratory.
Masonic funds were used to buy three six-passenger shuttles to assist patients from parking areas to the Veterans Administration Hospital for treatment. The investment in shuttles was $30,000. Last year, Masons provided a $50,000 grant to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs for a mobile outreach office equipped with satellite access to VA records.