My little sister and I still talk about the time in our grandparents’ house when we were convinced we heard reindeer on the roof. Surely it must have been Santa to deliver the overstuffed teddy bear and the doll with pink hair.
Or perhaps you remember lighting the menorah and getting the gold money that was actually wrapped chocolate.
Perhaps it was the sound of holiday music, shopping with your husband, and wrapping gifts for the children.
But imagine if you had no memory; if the face of your beloved wasn’t even a cloudy shadow in your brain. Even more painful would be the pain of your loved ones who tried to find YOU inside a body that worked but a mind that didn’t.
The shadow cast by Alzheimer’s is expected to grow longer even though we resist talking about it.I can’t close off 2016 without offering up some sobering statistics in the hope that your last charitable donation of the year might be toward Alzheimer’s Research. Consider the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research, given a 97.7 (out of 100) and four stars on Charity Navigator or The Alzheimer’s Association, your local support organization, or any organization that supports the caregivers.
Consider these facts:
Two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s are women and also the primary caregivers for someone with dementia.
Every 66 seconds a person in the US develops the disease. By 2050, the time will reduce to 33 seconds.
As baby boomers age, the number of the affected is expected to grow from 5.2 to 13.8 million.
In 2016, total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice are estimated to be $236 billion for Alzheimer’s and dementia alone.
Today 18.1 billion hours is the cost of unpaid care by caregivers.
Currently, there is no slowing, no stopping and no curing this horrid disease.
One last action you might take before Congress adjourns: consider calling your representatives in Congress. Here is why:
Earlier this year at the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the EUREKA Act to our advocates. The legislation establishes public-private prize competitions to accelerate breakthroughs for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. The Eureka Act has now been integrated into another critical piece of legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act.
21st Century Cures would accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new treatments and cures for many diseases. It would increase funding at the National Institutes of Health for innovative approaches to addressing complex diseases. And it would streamline the regulatory process to ensure that treatments can be available to patients as soon as possible.
On behalf of both of my parents who died (dementia for Mom and Lewy Bodies for Dad) and all my colleagues who also are walking this path with parents, spouses, or friends,I thank you.