Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) has received a $10 million charitable investment from the family of the late J. Orin Edson for innovative dementia care and caregiver support for patients and families living with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders. The investment will create new programs and expand existing services available to patients at one of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s specialty memory centers, which includes the Stead Family Memory Center in Phoenix, the Toole Family Memory Center in Tucson, and the Cleo Roberts Center at Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City. This gift will honor the memory of J. Orin Edson, who built the iconic Bayliner recreational boating company, and died last year at the age of 87.

“Alzheimer’s and related dementias take devastating tolls on patients and family caregivers as well,” said Eric Reiman, MD, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute executive director and Banner Research CEO. “The Edson family’s extraordinary investment will allow us to introduce new programs, further address our families’ needs, extend our reach across the state and country, and provide the highest standard of dementia care that every family deserves. The impact of this investment will be far-reaching.”

Nationwide, some 16 million people provide unpaid care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which can be a long, exhausting, and often lonely experience. Stay-at-home orders and social isolation due to COVID-19 have only increased these feelings among caregivers.

The investment will support Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s new 24-hour Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support/Resource Referral Center, which will provide much needed, round the clock support to caregivers from a dementia-trained health care professional who is equipped with the patient’s electronic medical record to provide personalized information, education, and support..

“We are grateful for the opportunity to deliver an even greater range and medical and non-medical services for our patients and families and we are excited about the chance to do so in a way that could have an impact on the way dementia care is provided throughout the nation. We look forward to building on these services in the coming year,” Reiman added.

In addition to the 24-7 Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support/Resource Referral Center, the Edson family’s gift will support three other initiatives:

J. Orin Edson Family Lewy Body Dementia Center at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Tucson

Lewy body dementias are the second-leading cause of dementia and are not always recognized or diagnosed. Patients and families commonly see several different sub-specialists to address their unique care needs. The new Center will serve as a centralized care site to address a wide range of medical and non-medical needs, including exercise and wellness services, family support, and community education.

Peer-to-Peer Tele-Mentorship Program

The Tele-Mentorship program will enable renowned memory and thinking experts from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s specialty memory centers to support a wide range of physicians and other health care providers by sharing knowledge, reviewing cases, and expanding treatment capacity. This program will be provided to clinicians inside and outside Arizona, including those from underserved areas, to help them address the needs of their patients and families.

Dementia Care Partners

This developing program is intended to capitalize on the use of specially trained health coaches to ensure families and their care providers have access to the knowledge, resources, and support necessary to maximize their quality of life after a diagnosis. If successful, it could become a potentially reimbursable model of care throughout the nation for patients and families living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Banner Health President and CEO Peter S. Fine said such generosity is crucial. “Philanthropy has made it possible for BAI to provide the kind of dementia care we would want for our own families, it has given it a chance to help establish a new national standard of dementia care, and it has positioned BAI researchers as world leaders in the effort to find effective Alzheimer’s prevention therapies as soon as possible,” said Fine. “We are so grateful to the Edson family, who now join the Stead and Toole families as our most generous donors, for helping us to make a profound difference in the lives of our patients and families.”