JAX goes purple for Alzheimer's Association's The Longest Day event

Event kicked off The Jackson Laboratory’s initiative to make Bar Harbor dementia-friendly

On Thursday, June 21, a team of 36 Jackson Laboratory (JAX) employees donned purple shirts and visited Bar Harbor’s downtown restaurants, stores and businesses to kick off an initiative to help make the island dementia-friendly.  The project was part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day® event to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s care and support, and advance research.

JAX’s “ADventures” team – comprised of scientists and staff from Alzheimer’s disease-focused labs including the Kaczorowski Lab, the Howell Lab, the O’Connell Lab, the Carter Lab, and others – took a break from their daily research to find ways to predict, treat, and prevent the disease.  In addition to the dementia-friendly component, they also spent some time hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking and doing mental activities that are beneficial for the brain. 

Thursday marked the start of the JAX ADventures team’s efforts to help educate restaurant and store owners and staff about Alzheimer’s with the longer-term goal to make Bar Harbor a dementia-friendly community.  By helping educate the town, the team hopes to ensure people with dementia can live independently for as long as possible, and are able to engage in a variety of activities in their home town in a supportive environment.   

“I’m proud of the groundbreaking research my colleagues and I are doing at JAX, and I’m also proud to see our labs join forces to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers today,” said Gareth Howell, Ph.D., associate professor at JAX.  “To us, Alzheimer’s disease is more than just our research focus; it’s about people – our neighbors and our friends and our families.  Our goal is to create a dementia-friendly community where everyone can be part of a welcoming and supportive culture.” 

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the focus areas of the nonprofit biomedical research institution.  In addition to its groundbreaking research, JAX has also developed a collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association that includes Volunteer Service Days, testifying before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, and other educational programs.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 47 million people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias and it is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including 28,000 individuals in Maine, and this national number is estimated to grow to as many as 16 million by year 2050. Additionally, there are more than 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.