Alzheimer's is a daily reality for my family — for my maternal grandmother, Joan, and my dad, Steve. Nearly 6 million other Americans also live with the disease, and an anticipated 14 million are projected to be diagnosed by 2040. This horrible disease kills more people annually than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, and isn't restricted to old age. My dad was diagnosed about four years ago at the age of 57 with a rare form of Alzheimer's called Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA), which impacts his vision and spatial perception in addition to cognitive decline. It isn't restricted to your DNA either — Alzheimer's isn't a predominantly genetic disease, so the likelihood that any of us may develop it is about the same.
But Alzheimer's is more than a deadly disease. It's a brand new lifestyle, and a constant reminder of how fragile and precious our health and time can be — both as a patient and caregiver. More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for Alzheimer's patients, totaling an estimated 18.5 billion hours that equates to more than $230 billion.
While this frustrating disease is difficult, draining, and limiting, our family focuses more than ever on treasuring and finding joy in every moment — which, after a tornado and Steve's broken leg, we still manage to do! Although Alzheimer's robbed my granny of her ability to recognize us, it didn't take my memories of a loving, funny, firecracker woman. Watching my dad struggle to find the right words or quietly give up his hobbies is nothing short of heartbreaking, but my family is dedicated to giving him the best life we can given the circumstances. I refuse to let this disease defeat my family.
In 2019, I'm dedicating my time to volunteering with the local Denver chapter of the Alzheimer's Association to plan our September Walk to End Alzheimer's event. Join me in City Park for a day honoring our loved ones and to raise awareness for advanced research, methods of treatment, prevention, and ultimately, a cure.
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
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