What do these people have in common: Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Stewart, Cyrus Vance, Ronald Reagan, Charles Bronson, and author Irish Murdoch?
Oh yes. They were/are famous but there's an insidious fact they also share: Alzheimer's.
As brilliant, talented, well-connected, and financially secure these people were, the ravages of this heart-breaking, no-cure and no-stopping disease took everyone prisoner. Everyone including all their loved ones.
This week, the movie Still Alice, opens nationwide. It's the story of a linguist who is diagnosed with early-onset dementia. I read the book a few years ago as we cared for my mother who had dementia. It ripped my heart out. My dad died of Lewy Bodies-another severe form of dementia-the same diagnosis as Robin Williams.
Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease in America, swallowing life savings, draining family resources and personal energy, and robbing the individual of his or her personhood, dignity, and ability to handle what caregivers call ADL "activities of daily living".
Furthermore, with an aging population, this disease will skyrocket. It already costs some $214 billion annually in the United States. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that some 5.2 million Americans had the disease in 2014 and nearly two-thirds are women.
But here's the kicker: In receiving funding for research, Alzheimer's falls far behind other diseases. It is as if Alzheimer's is a dirty word, not to be spoken above a whisper.
And yet we must talk about it. Because it is so slow for the disease to manifest, we want to ignore it. But I can guarantee you--without a doubt, everyone who reads this post will have someone in their immediate family who will suffer this horrific disease from which NO ONE recovers.
We need research dollars. We need help for families who can be burdened for YEARS with caring for someone with dementia. It takes a toll on everyone.
Do it now-while YOU are still YOU. PS. A portion of the profits from my new book Your Resiliency GPS is being given to the Alzeheimer's Association.