The Alzheimer’s Association, which leads the world in research and support services for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, is very active on Long Island, where it found in a 2023 study that nearly 12 percent of Suffolk County residents over the age of 65 had Alzheimer’s Disease.

The group’s presence is growing on the North Fork, thanks to a few dedicated volunteers, including Nancy Chandler, a Southold resident who became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association while caring for her mother, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2013.


Pictured Above: At the inaugural Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2023 at Peconic Landing.


Ms. Chandler, who organized the inaugural Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Peconic Landing last year, is working with fellow Alzheimer’s Association volunteer Jennifer Drofenik, who also works as the Director of Health Services at Peconic Landing, on a second annual walk there on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.

Ms. Chandler, who has been leading a caregiver support group at the East Hampton Library at 11 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, is also now also running a caregiver support group at the Mattituck-Laurel Library on the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. The group next meets July 8. (More details are at alz.org/longisland)

“It’s everywhere, unfortunately,” she said of the disease in a presentation to the Southold Town Board at its June 18 work session. At the support groups, she said “it is so heartwarming to see people who are struggling caring for someone they love supporting one another. It’s emotional. We laugh. We cry.”

Ms. Drofenik said the first annual North Fork Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised more than $24,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association’s work, and that all of its services are offered free of charge.

The Alzheimer’s Association hosts walks all over the country, but until last year the closest walk to the North Fork, which has an aging population in need of its services, was in Yaphank.

“We want to get the community involved, and to see young people getting involved and local schools participating,” said Ms. Drofenik. “We’re working to make sure the North Fork is served by this organization. We want to make sure our community has these resources.”

Ms. Chandler said many people she knows have found the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline, 800.272.3900, to be an invaluable resource.

To register as an individual or a team for the North Fork Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit act.alz.org/nofo, or contact Judy Wichter at jwichter@alzz.org or 631.315.6494.   —BHY

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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