Florida A&M University Nursing Students Expand Their Knowledge With the ALZ STARS Program

By Maddison Rametta and Audrey Coachman

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia affects 1 in every 37 Floridians statewide. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Alzheimer’s Association have partnered to create the ALZ STARS program, a joint initiative to bring increased awareness of dementia and the resources available to Floridians.

Pre-Nursing and Nursing students at Florida A&M University joined the ALZ STARS program to better understand the warning signs of dementia, how to better communicate with those living with the disease and what resources can help those impacted.

Through the ALZ STARS program these students learned: 

  • How to identify the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementia. 
  • How to take steps to receive an accurate diagnosis. 
  • How to understand simple communication tips. 
  • How to access resources provided by Florida’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), Memory Disorder Clinics (MDCs), and Dementia Care and Cure Initiative (DCCI) Task Forces.
Sa’Mya Foster and Nya Brigham with their ALZ STARS certificates.

What is your name? Sa’Mya Foster. I am a Pre-Nursing student at Florida A&M University. 

Has Alzheimer’s impacted someone in your life? Although Alzheimer’s has not impacted someone in my life, I do know that it is a very common disease and one that will most likely impact my career in nursing. 

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? I chose to become an ALZ STAR to expand my knowledge in hopes that it will help me, help others not only in the future but even now.

What is your name? Nya Brigham

Has Alzheimer’s impacted someone in your life? My grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s a couple years ago. And there are some early signs of Alzheimer’s in other members of my family as well. 

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? I decided to become an ALZ STAR to help me gain more knowledge on Alzheimer’s that will eventually benefit me when I am caring for those patients in the future as a nurse. 

Taylor N. Hardy with her ALZ STARS certificate.

What is your name? Taylor N. Hardy

Has Alzheimer’s impacted someone in your life? No. Although Alzheimer’s hasn’t impacted or affected someone in my life, I now understand the protocols and the steps to take if someone I know were to have Alzheimer’s.

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? I chose to become an ALZ STAR to gain awareness of the disease and to gain an understanding of the long-term effects which will be useful as I pursue my passion as a health care worker.

Raja Freeman and Demaya Petit-Frere with their ALZ STARS certificates.

What is your name? Demaya Petit-Frere. I am a 1st semester professional nursing student from Orlando, FL. 

Has Alzheimer’s impacted someone in your life? Yes, my great aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s well over a year ago.

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? I chose to become an ALZ STAR because I want to be able to spread awareness. Being that I want to work in the healthcare field I want to provide the best care possible to patients with Alzheimer’s dementia. I also feel like me becoming an ALZ STAR will help strengthen my knowledge more about the early signs and symptoms, how to detect it, and what steps to take when I start to notice the early signs. 

What is your name? Raja Freeman

Has Alzheimer’s impacted someone in your life? Alzheimer’s has not affected anyone in my personal life; however, I do know people who have family members who do have Alzheimer’s.

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? I felt like this was a great opportunity to learn more about the disease and be more informed about how to accurately deal with someone that has Alzheimer’s. 

Jordyn and Zakhia, two other FAMU ALZ STARS, with their certificates.

What is your name? Jordyn Broadwater

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? As a future nursing student, I viewed this as an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect the elderly and their families. 

What is your name? Zakhia Henderson

Why did you choose to become an ALZ STAR? As a future nursing student, I believe it is important to understand how this disease plays a crucial role, as this will allow me to contribute knowledge to the courses that comprise the nursing curriculum.

A diagnosis in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can make a big difference. It means access to treatment options that can reduce cognitive and functional decline and help lessen symptoms. Early medical care provides a chance to prioritize health and preserve cognitive function for as long as possible. Most importantly, an early diagnosis allows more time to plan for the future, to express wishes about legal, financial and end-of-life decisions.

There is even a cost savings for early diagnosis. Among all Americans alive today, if those who will get Alzheimer’s disease were diagnosed when they had mild cognitive impairment, before dementia, it would collectively save approximately $7 trillion in health and long-term care costs.

It’s time all Floridians became ALZ STARS. With the number of Floridians impacted by the disease expected to grow 24% by 2025, we owe it to our family and friends. Know the signs. Know the resources. Make a difference. Register today.

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