DENVILLE — November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, and Alzheimer's New Jersey is using these next few weeks to promote a faith-based initiative to raise statewide awareness and recognize those in the faith community affected by Alzheimer's, whether they have the disease or are caretakers.

Although the organization has specifically partnered with the Archdiocese of Newark, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, and one of the state's Jewish Foundations, it is welcoming people of all faiths and from any house of worship to become part of a "new audience" staffers are trying to reach.

Julie Schuldner, vice president of development and communications for Alzheimer's New Jersey, said a key goal of the initiative is simply letting people know how many of their fellow New Jerseyans' lives are touched by Alzheimer's in some way.

"It's about 170,000 people with the disease, but when you include the caregivers, which in the majority of cases are more than one person, you're looking at over half a million people," she said.

Schuldner also hoped that this effort would help identify cases of Alzheimer's which are unreported, and secure help for those people — and support for the helpers.

"If someone is caregiving within your faith community, and a group of people come together to give the caregiver a break, to go food shopping or to bring meals, then you are including a larger number of people," she said.

At Alzheimer's New Jersey's website, alznj.org, a toolkit is available to assist houses of worship in recognizing and supporting those impacted by the disease. The toolkit includes talking points, printable materials, and support group schedules.

Also, coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 15, the organization is hosting a series of community education programs all across New Jersey. A full schedule of those is also available on their website.

Schuldner additionally provided the group's helpline number, 888-280-6055, for anyone to call and be reassured that "you are not alone."

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