Sep 012016
 

I’ve been a proud team captain for Walk to End Alzheimer’s for five years. I walk for all those living with Alzheimer’s, including myself.

I started having trouble with my memory in my 40s. I worked in a doctor’s office as a nurse and suddenly I forgot how to calculate inches to feet in height. Then, I couldn’t remember what shots were given at what age. Eventually, I forgot how to spell the doctor’s name.Walkimageblog

My family doctor performed a mini dementia test and referred me to a memory center, where I was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. I thought of my daughter – am I going to see her get married, or see any grandchildren grow up? I’m 56 years old, and my mom is my caregiver. That is one truth I never thought was possible.

My sister reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association and I was connected with someone at my local chapter. I saw that there was a need for people who are in the early stages of dementia to meet and talk so I started the first Memory Cafe in Lancaster County. I’m also a mentor, speaking to people who are newly-diagnosed, and I raise awareness in the community by fundraising. One of the biggest ways I fundraise is through Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

I enjoy watching Walk to End Alzheimer’s continue to grow every year. Seeing donations come in that will support caregivers and those living with the disease means so much to me. Every step taken during Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a step closer to a cure, no matter where you walk. I’m lucky to use some of the skills I used as a nurse to encourage others to join me and to educate the public. And I’m not only helping them – they are helping me.

Here is what I know: Alzheimer’s is not just an old person’s disease. Alzheimer’s is not funny. Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, not a mental health issue. Alzheimer’s doesn’t care who you are or what you do. Alzheimer’s affects us all.

Alzheimer’s diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to stop living. You still have a lot to offer to the community and a voice (and feet!) to help bring awareness to the disease. This is why I walk to end Alzheimer’s.Mary Read 2015 ESAG Headshot

 

About the Author: On September 24, Mary Read will walk in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care and support resources for local communities. She encourages people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to enjoy life every day. You can visit her team page here

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Sep 012016
 

image001Family, fitness and faith are all at the center of my being. I was a caregiver for 13 years for two of the most important men in my life – my fathers. Like many caregivers, I experienced the joy and heartbreak of caring for my parents. It was a journey that sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry.

When my father was diagnosed with dementia after suffering from two strokes, I was concerned about his quality of life, so I moved him into my home and hired nurse assistants to help me take care of him. Eventually, God sent me an angel named Lenell Wyatt who moved into my home and took care of my Papa as if he was her Papa.

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It was a blessing to have Dad at home with me. We had a beautiful relationship. Every morning it was like waking up to sunshine.

There were many ways dementia changed my Dad, but I made sure he was always physically, mentally and spiritually stimulated. To help him develop a new norm, I took measures to focus on his wellness daily. We kept busy with senior church programs, bingo and movie nights, field trips, aquatics, art classes and tennis. We also had date nights once a week. Papa loved to go salsa dancing…well, he stood in one place snapping his fingers while the pretty girls danced around him. Every single day was full of these sunny moments.


I believe everyone can live their best life, and this includes people with dementia and Alzheimer’s – and their caregivers.

With more than 25 years in the fitness business, I have seen firsthand how having a purpose, the right mindset and setting goals can help create change. To continue the legacy of my father, I’m educating, inspiring and empowering people about dementia, whether it’s about caregiving, the emotions that come along with the disease or the financial impact it has on families. I would like to support families who have loved ones living with this disease and keep the lines of communication open so that other people don’t feel alone in their fight.
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That is why I am walking in Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year.

My Dad passed away last June. I put my head on his belly, and saw him take his last breath. He was surrounded by those that he loved, and he was ushered into glory with the lead singer from the praise and worship team singing “Amazing Grace” and “Precious Lord.” It was the greatest honor to take care of him and he lived his best life.

For my Papa and millions of others like him, I continue to work to make sure my story is heard.

I know my passion and purpose is to connect with families and friends at Walk to motivate and reach their souls! Our shared goal is a world without Alzheimer’s. Let’s put strategies in place to make that happen. Let’s walk.

 

image004About the Author: Donna Richardson is an international lifestyle and fitness expert, author and talk show host. She has starred in award-winning videos for Nike, ESPN and Beachbody, the best-selling “Buns of Steel” and now her own “Old School Dance Party Workout.” She has served on the Women’s Sports Foundation Board, the LPGA Foundation Board, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Board and as an Advisory Board Member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She is an Ambassador for the “Let’s Move” initiative, has taught at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls and is the founder of Grow Green Get Fit, a nutritional, physical and environmental curriculum for school-aged children taught at YMCAs across the country.  Donna is the only member to serve on both President Obama’s and President Bush’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). She was inducted into the Fitness Hall of Fame and named “One of the Most Inspirational Women in America” by Essence Magazine. Join her at the Walk in Dallas, Texas.

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Aug 232016
 

This summer has been filled with positive advancements towards increased federal Alzheimer’s research funding in the House and the Senate for FY17. And, in August, Alzheimer’s champions received another reason to celebrate when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended a $414 million increase in spending on Alzheimer’s disease research above NIH’s base appropriation for Fiscal Year 2018. Were this provided next year on top of what Congress is on track to provide this year, that increase would bring overall Alzheimer’s research at NIH to $1.8 billion per year, quadruple what it was just a few years ago.

This recommendation came during the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) Advisory Council meeting when the second-ever professional judgment budget for Alzheimer’s research was released. To date, only two other diseases have received NIH professional judgment budgets: cancer and HIV/AIDS. This recommendation continues to lay the groundwork for the next step toward meeting the lead goal in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.2016-pjb-infographic-2-page-001

NIH laid out the research milestones it expects to meet if Congress provides the increase called for in this professional judgment budget, also called a bypass budget. These milestones include new insight into the disease mechanisms, identifying pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways to treat Alzheimer’s, creating more effective methods of research, and performing trials to enhance caregiving and support for caregivers, among many other areas of research. With steady, appropriate funding increases, the future is promising for Alzheimer’s research.

The announcement by NIH comes on the heels of the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees approving increases that could be as high as $400 million for FY2017.

In issuing the FY2018 Alzheimer’s research bypass budget, NIH noted that Alzheimer’s disease represents a huge financial burden on taxpayers both nationally and individually. The Alzheimer’s Association 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report showed that Alzheimer’s and other dementia related care costs are expected to rise from $236 billion in 2016 to over $1 trillion in 2050 (in 2016 dollars).

The NIH decision and recent actions in Congress are the latest signs that the work of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, and our relentless advocates are being heard in Washington. Working together we will create a world without Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: Robert J. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and also serves as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

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Aug 232016
 

This is the final piece of a three part series on the need to act decisively to address the Alzheimer’s crisis. Part one reviewed the fiscal imperative to address the Alzheimer’s crisis, while part two addressed the research needs and opportunities.

THE PEOPLE’S IMPERATIVE

The public is increasingly aware of the need for action. A nationwide survey the Alzheimer’s Association fielded in 2015 found that voters view Alzheimer’s disease as a significant priority. The survey found:

  • 73 million voters have had a family member or close friend with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • More than one-third, or 52 million American voters, have provided care or personal assistance to a relative, friend or neighbor with Alzheimer’s.
  • 82 percent of voters nationwide are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease.
  • 87 percent of voters feel unprepared or only somewhat prepared to meet care needs of a family member who develops Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The majority, 64 percent, of voters would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who has pledged to support a major national research effort to fight Alzheimer’s.Alzheimers Grassroot Mailer Iowa

Millions of American voters have had personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease and understand the dramatic toll the disease takes on families across the country. It is unsurprising that presidential and congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle have been discussing the Alzheimer’s crisis while campaigning.

Constituents want Washington to address this mounting health crisis by advancing research and increasing support for caregivers. This year, Alzheimer’s Association advocates are pressing for a $400 million increase in Alzheimer’s research at the NIH in order to achieve the breakthroughs needed to develop preventions and effective treatments by 2025 — the goal established in the National Alzheimer’s Plan.

Issues important to constituents can be controversial, but urgently addressing Alzheimer’s is not. Prioritizing Alzheimer’s disease research funding is smart politics for a very important reason: Americans understand it is the only way to change the deadly and expensive trajectory that is bearing down on so many American families.

This challenge unites Washington, just like the country as a whole. It is time to act.

 

About the Author: Robert J. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and also serves as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

This post originally appeared on www.alzimpact.org.

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Aug 222016
 
Courtesy: NIH

This is part two of a three-part series on the need to act decisively to address the Alzheimer’s crisis. Part one reviewed the fiscal imperative to address the Alzheimer’s crisis, while part three reveals public opinion on the need for government to act.

The Research Imperative

The federal government has taken several important steps in recent years to address this looming crisis. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), passed unanimously by Congress in December 2010 and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2011, mandated a national strategic plan to address the crisis and coordinate Alzheimer’s disease efforts across the federal government. First released in 2012, the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease set a clear goal: “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.”

There’s only one way to meet the 2025 goal: research, research and more research.

Courtesy: NIH

Courtesy: NIH

Promising research is both underway and ready for the pipeline. During the past decade, researchers have significantly advanced our understanding of how a healthy brain works and what happens to the brain of a person living with Alzheimer’s disease. Many of the new drugs in development aim to modify the disease process itself by targeting those brain changes.

This is in part why prominent scientists believe the national plan is attainable if we accelerate funding. Encouragingly, Congress has begun to heed the message:

  • The omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2015 included the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, which requires the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a professional judgment budget to execute the milestones established by NAPA. This will advise Congress on what NIH believes is needed to reach the goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. Only cancer and HIV/AIDS have been previously designated for this special budget development aimed at speeding discovery.
  • In December of 2015, Congress passed and the president signed an omnibus spending bill that included a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research at NIH. This is the largest annual increase ever in federal Alzheimer’s research funding — a nearly 60 percent increase that brings the total spending for research investigating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to nearly $1 billion per year.

Despite this progress, we must reach higher. In 2013, the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, which advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services, recommended investing at least $2 billion a year in research to meet the 2025 goal, as advised by scientists convened by NIH.

 

About the Author: Robert J. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and also serves as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

This post originally appeared on www.alzimpact.org.

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Aug 192016
 

My mom has been living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s for over nine years, diagnosed when she was just 53. This is why I walk to end Alzheimer’s. This year will be my fourth Walk in honor of her and the millions of people diagnosed with this disease.

Some people mistakenly think that Alzheimer’s is a “cute” disease that happens to old people when they lose their memory.

When I posted a video on Facebook last year of my mom barely being able to move without my support during the mother-son dance at my wedding, people got a better understand how devastating Alzheimer’s can be. It isn’t cute at all. And when you see firsthand what this disease does to someone you love, it makes you want to do whatever you can to fight the disease and help wherever and whenever possible.

I’m also constantly inspired by my father, who has never wavered.IMG_7235 (1)

Dad is there taking care of my mom 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He does anything and everything you can imagine and more for her, always with a smile on his face. This is one of the many reasons I’ve found my Walk experience to be so rewarding. I do it for my mother, who has the disease, and my father, her devoted husband and caregiver.

Knowing that Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be slowed, prevented or cured, the importance of walking and raising as much money as possible is beyond critical.

My sister and her fiancé had been involved with the Walk in D.C. and it was their example that inspired me to reply to the email asking me to help out with the San Francisco walk two years ago. I started out as the chair of the sponsorship sub-committee, and this year I was lucky enough to be asked to co-chair the San Francisco Walk. I jumped at the opportunity!

I was able to raise just over $2,500 last year, and my goal this year is to top $3,000.

The most important thing anyone can do to raise funds is just ask. You never know which of your friends, family or coworkers might have a connection to the disease – or who just want to support you because they care about you! My wife Whitney and I discovered this quickly when we began our fundraising efforts, and it left us feeling so inspired.

I walk for my mom and my dad. I also walk for me.

I walk to raise Alzheimer’s awareness as much as I walk to raise money to put an end to husbands, wives, sons and daughters having to spend their lives caring for the people they love instead of enjoying the everyday moments that make life with those family members so special. I walk so that I can live in a future without Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: Chris Reynolds is the co-chair for the San Francisco Walk to End Alzheimer’s. You can visit his team page here.

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Aug 092016
 

This is part one of a three-part series on the need to act decisively to address the Alzheimer’s crisis. Part two addresses the research needs and opportunities. Part three reveals public opinion on the need for government to act.

In the three seconds it takes you to read this sentence, taxpayers will have spent more than $15,000 on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Within the hour, the cost will reach $18.3 million.

Our nation’s entitlement programs are coming under increasing strain as the cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias are poised to cost Medicare and Medicaid $160 billion this year alone. At this moment, more than five million people are living with the disease, and, without medical breakthroughs, by 2050 that statistic may be as high as 16 million people at a cost of $1.1 trillion per year to Medicare and Medicaid.

The baby-boom generation is on track to become Generation Alzheimer’s, as more than 28 million of them are expected to develop the disease.

Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory, thinking capacity and other brain functions. Over time, those with the disease become entirely dependent on others for all activities of daily living. Those with severe or late stage Alzheimer’s eventually lose their ability to eat, bathe and manage their own bodily functions. It is a devastating disease for those living with it and for their families who watch their loved ones slip away. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s is always fatal. We cannot yet celebrate a single Alzheimer’s survivor.ALZ-18.3M-01

What’s more, there are no available therapies to address the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s, making it the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. With its soaring prevalence, lack of effective treatment and skyrocketing costs, Alzheimer’s disease is a crippling triple threat unlike any other disease.

In just a few decades Alzheimer’s has reached epidemic proportions, while the federal research funding necessary to better understand and eliminate the disease has been insufficient to meet scientific recommendations. A few months ago, however, Congress took an important step with the largest-ever federal funding increase for Alzheimer’s disease research, which now totals nearly $1 billion per year. While this is a promising step in the journey to end this epidemic, the nation’s top scientists and researchers have told Congress that research funding must be brought up to at least $2 billion per year — a level comparable to that for other major diseases — if Congress intends to make adequate progress against this disease in time to be relevant for most Baby Boomers.

The Fiscal Imperative

Already America’s most expensive disease with an estimated cost of care at $236 billion a year, excluding unpaid family caregiving, the cost to our nation will only continue to grow as our nation’s population ages.

  • Today, an estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 200,000 under the age of 65. One in nine people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and the U.S. population is aging. As baby boomers reach the age of greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, it can be expected that — barring a treatment or breakthrough — millions of them will spend their retirement years either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.
  • And while the medical community is working hard to find treatments, today the five drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Alzheimer’s only temporarily help memory and thinking problems in about half of the people who take them. The medications do not treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s makes treating patients with multiple diseases more expensive, and most individuals with Alzheimer’s typically suffer from more than one chronic condition. For example, a patient with diabetes and Alzheimer’s costs Medicare 81 percent more than a patient who only has diabetes, according to our analysis of Medicare claims data.

This is a disastrous formula for Medicare. Today, Medicare already spends one dollar of every five on care for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. By 2050, that will increase to one dollar of every three. And, in 2050 Medicare spending just on people with Alzheimer’s disease will be almost as much as the total defense budget is today.

About the Author: Robert J. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and also serves as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

This post originally appeared on www.alzimpact.org.

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Jun 292016
 

Nikki Dodson is care partner for her husband Ken who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. They are both 37 years old. We spoke to them about their reality of being a young family with a very unique story and a huge passion for ending Alzheimer’s.

Nikki

Ken received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis a week before his 30th birthday. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time. Even gaining access to some Alzheimer’s informative resources has been hard due to Ken’s young age. Grants have to follow specific guidelines related to the federal budget, and a lot of programs are senior-based. There are many programs to teach children about grandma and grandpa having Alzheimer’s, but not mom and dad. So many doors were closed to us, and we heard so many no’s.

Suddenly I was in the position of earning our primary income because Ken had to stop working. We didn’t live above our means, but we lived to our means. We are not materialistic people, but the things we had we worked very hard for. We have also made it a goal to teach our children that education and working hard is important. To provide for our family after Ken’s diagnosis, we had to sell our belongings piece by piece just to make house payment and put gas in the car. There was even a case worker that told us to get divorced so we could get more money.

Alzheimer’s is a grieving process throughout; you are losing a loved one daily. I have three kids, a husband and a petting zoo at home, so I just try to make the best of each day, even if I have to dig deep and then deeper to make it all work. I do that for my family.

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Ken

The most important thing is to build a strong support group; it carries you. Nikki is by far my strongest supporter. At first I tried not talking about it, putting it out of the way, but it sunk in one day that if something isn’t done, my kids will be going through the same thing I am going through.

People need to know the truths about Alzheimer’s. They need to know that this is not an old person’s disease. They need to know that this is a fatal illness. If you don’t know the truth, you aren’t helping yourself or your family. I didn’t want to know, but if you don’t start talking about it, it’s never going to change. It can bankrupt the whole economy the way it is going. Something definitely has to be done.

Nikki

There is the stigma that it’s an old person’s disease which happens with age…that you expect it, or see it coming. That isn’t the case. This is not an elderly disease.  You watch some of the smartest people robbed of their dignity and independence. Ken notices the changes and sees where he is struggling, and that is why this middle part is the hardest.  He now has to second guess himself or look to me for guidance regarding things he has been doing on his own his whole life.  It not only affects the person with the disease; it affects the whole family dynamic. It has a ripple effect, but I refuse to let this disease win, even though I know what it’s doing.

IMG_5671 (1)It is hard and some days I want to give up. But I also have met some of the most amazing people. The Alzheimer’s Association knows us and our family, and it feels like an extended part of our family. Lauren Miller Rogen and Seth Rogen have done so much for us and helped us tell our story through the documentary film “This is Alzheimer’s.” I feel like I was a good person before Ken’s diagnosis, but my compassion truly came out with it. I realized that I could live in a personal hell of anger and frustration or I could make a difference. We have made it our focus to educate people, and I respond to hundreds of emails and social media contacts weekly.

Someone I know recently used the phrase “passion for compassion.” I love that. An ordinary person can do extraordinary things, and that is what we are trying to do. We are taking this negative and turning it into a positive. By sharing our story, we are helping to raise awareness and uncover the truths about Alzheimer’s.

 

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Jun 272016
 

“How many of you, either directly or indirectly, have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease?”

This is the question I ask my colleagues every year at our kick-off meeting for Forget Me Not Days (FMND), the national Bankers Life fundraising campaign to support the Alzheimer’s Association. Every year, more people raise their hands.

For the past 14 years, Bankers Life has supported the Alzheimer’s Association through fundraising and advocating for early detection, which can help individuals and families affected by the disease prepare financially; this year the event was held on June 3 and 4, 2016.

Blog_Photo 1During FMND, Bankers Life employees go out into their communities to collect donations for local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, handing out packets of Forget-Me-Not flower seeds and asking that they be planted in honor of the more than 5 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s.

When I began supporting FMND in 2004, people were only vaguely familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, its symptoms, or its impact.

Today, awareness of the disease is greater than what it was ten years ago. I’m moved when I see the immense passion our employees put behind this effort and how the community is always looking for more ways to support research and education. Unfortunately, each year of this campaign, we encounter more people from all walks of life who have a personal connection to the disease and the devastation it causes.

My grandfather was treated for a form of dementia when I was in my early 20s. We didn’t know about Alzheimer’s at the time, but I suspect he had it. I can recall the mental, emotional and financial toll this disease had on my family, especially my devoted and caring parents. I vividly remember my parents lovingly and selflessly taking care of my grandfather, but being caught off guard by the cost.Blog_Photo 2

That is why Forget Me Not Days is more than just a few days of fundraising.

It’s a reminder of how important it is to make sure communities across the U.S. are educated about Alzheimer’s disease, aware of early detection methods and informed about the benefits of planning ahead for long-term care. It’s not a comfortable conversation to have, but it is one that can make such an enormous difference later on when dealing with the high costs of in-home care, medication and home safety modifications.

I’m proud of my more than 13 years of support for the Alzheimer’s Association and am committed to expanding our efforts, growing awareness and removing the stigma surrounding  Alzheimer’s. My hope is for a future without the disease. Until then, I will continue to do my part to help lessen the burden for my community.

Blog_Photo 3About the Author: Keith Lozowski serves as the Regional Director for the Florida Region of Bankers Life. His region consists of the offices in Jacksonville, Daytona, Tampa, Clearwater, Orlando, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Miami, as well as satellite offices in Fleming Island, Orange City, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Spring Hill, Tallahassee, Wesley Chapel, North Miami and Brunswick, Georgia. In addition, he serves as Branch Manager at the Jacksonville branch. Lozowski has been with Bankers Life for over 18 years.

 

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Jun 202016
 

Today is the The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. On June 14, 2012, my four siblings and I crowded around my father’s bed to say our final goodbyes. Ronald Paul Geguzys Sr. has been missed in so many ways since then, most especially by his children who never really got the chance to share him with our children. Dad passed away of Alzheimer’s just after his 73rd birthday. He left behind a wife, five kids, 11 grandchildren and many people who had the privilege of calling him a friend. He spent the bulk of his career at GE, growing steadily to CEO of the Ballast Division.gb3

He knew how to work hard and play hard. He was an avid sailor and loved all water sports. He taught us to ski practically from birth! He gave the best hugs and hearing his voice meant all was right in the world. His smile and laughter were infectious. I cannot remember a time growing up when he didn’t know the answer to a question, or at least have the ability to figure it out quickly.

Dad could build anything from scratch, including a car and his homes. Even with such “dad-like” hobbies he was the most gentle nurse when he had to care for my brother and I after we were severely injured in accidents just weeks apart.

He wasn’t perfect. He could be brutally honest, infuriating and inflexible. To know him, though, was to love him. Watching him forget little things was hard, but knowing he had no idea who his kids were was brutal. His death blew a hole in relationships that were built over a lifetime. Watching him suffer was more than we could bear.

gb1It has taken a few years for the pain of his passing to settle enough to push through and do something in his honor. Now, the time is right to honor his memory and join the fight against Alzheimer’s during The Longest Day. This year during the summer solstice we will raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association by “Lighting The Park” to honor my dad and others who have been affected by this disease.gb2

Tonight, as the sun sets on The Longest Day, we are meeting downtown in the park. Each person gathered will have a unique hand-blown glassybaby votive with a tea light inside. We will come together and make a statement by lighting our candles together and basking in each light’s glow. By joining as a group to remember and support those we love with Alzheimer’s, we will send a powerful message that we are stronger in numbers.

Growing up, my parents always taught us that together my siblings and I were a fist, as there were five of us, and alone we were just digits. I would like to think the same rule applies to fighting Alzheimer’s. Together we can make a difference. Together we can raise awareness and funds to research a way to finally eradicate this disease so no one has to fight this awful fight.

About the Author: Vicki Fredman is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

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