Roberta Morris of Bay Terrace, who has dedicated her life to advocating for people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, is this year’s recipient of the Frank Carlino Award.
“We are delighted to present this year’s Carlino Award to Roberta Morris. She jumped into advocacy with both feet and has demonstrated her flexibility and positive spirit as advocacy became virtual during the pandemic,” said Christopher Smith, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter. “No matter the challenge, Roberta rises to it on behalf of every New York family affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementia.”
In the early 2000s, Frank Carlino of Cornwall became the face of Alzheimer’s at a time when people with the disease did not speak out about it. He was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s in his late 50s and shared his experience living with the disease in a variety of public settings — including testimony before Congress in 2000. His work led to the establishment of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Early Stage Task Force. He lived with Alzheimer’s for many years before his death from lung cancer at age 67.
The Frank Carlino Award celebrates his visionary spirit and is given each year to recognize an advocate in New York state who exemplifies the qualities of dedicated perseverance and creativity that help people with Alzheimer’s and their families.
Morris became aware of Alzheimer’s and dementia at a very early age. When she was 8 years old, she joined her mother as a caregiver for her grandmother, who had dementia. These early experiences led her to become an advocate for people impacted by Alzheimer’s and to dedicate her career to fostering health and well-being. She is a certified health coach with her own practice that focuses on wellness for women in midlife.
Morris remembers how difficult caregiving was for her family, particularly her mother.
“Women are most affected by Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. We are more likely to be diagnosed with these diseases and to be unpaid family caregivers,” Morris said. “I saw firsthand the toll the disease took on my grandmother and my mother. They inspire me today in my advocacy work and in my wellness practice. My hope is for everyone to age well and to lead vibrant, positive, energetic lives. I am honored to receive the Frank Carlino Award and to continue his legacy of service.”
Morris began her advocacy with the Alzheimer’s Association in 2019 when she took on the role of ambassador for Congresswoman Grace Meng. Alzheimer’s Ambassadors are grassroots volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement — the advocacy arm of the Alzheimer’s Association.
In her role, Morris developed a productive working relationship with Meng and her staff, providing timely information on ways to increase research funding and improve care and support for constituents affected by Alzheimer’s.
After moving from Bayside to Bay Terrace, Morris was surprised to learn that she now lived in the district of Congressman Tom Suozzi. She didn’t hesitate to volunteer as the new ambassador for Suozzi and to transition to a replacement for her former district. Morris also joined the advocate team for Senator Charles Schumer.
In New York state, there are more than 410,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease and 586,000 caregivers who provide 7.74 million hours of unpaid care to their loved ones with dementia valued at nearly $15 million. Nationally, more than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and nearly two-thirds of them are women.