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History

In November 1979, Dr. Wallace Mayo began to show signs of Alzheimer's Disease, an affliction that remains difficult to diagnose and understand to this day. In her quest for understanding, his wife, Jean K. Mayo, found there was no local support group available to caregivers of Alzheimer's patients. By 1981,  she had connected with several people who possessed firsthand knowledge of the disease. Her brother encouraged her to start her own support group, so she found an organization willing to answer telephone calls and mail reminders for meetings. On August 19, 1981 a full-page article in the Pensacola News Journal shared the story of local individuals who had recently died of Alzheimer's. Within the pages of the same paper came mention of a meeting for those interested in learning more about the disease. Sixty-four people showed up for that meeting.

In the years that followed, an average attendance of 24 people attended these monthly support groups, seeking resources for coping and caregiving. In the beginning, there were times when only 3 or 4 were present whose loved ones had been recently diagnosed. Whether for six or sixty people, resources and support were always available. Attendees were primarily caregivers, in the good company of social workers, nurses, home health care providers and others – with the common bond to find understanding.

In 1996, Alzheimer's Support Group incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and changed its name to Alzheimer's Family Services, Inc., continuing to provide valuable services to the community. To further strengthen its capabilities, in 2006 AFS became a subsidiary of Covenant Hospice. In 2012, with administrative and volunteer collaboration from Covenant Hospice, AFS provided support groups for 390 attendees and 542 hours of respite care to caregivers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. In addition to these services, more than 1,800 individuals receive The Caring Times newsletter each month.