As we all live and suffer through the devastating effects of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I can't help but be especially moved by the stories of the tens of thousands of older Americans who succumbed alone, whether in hospitals, nursing facilities or their own homes with no one there to take care of them. Some were my friend's relatives, others simply obituaries in the newspaper. Every one of them mattered, no matter how old they were.
Nearly 10 years ago, I lost my beloved mother, Paula Shmerler, to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. In our case, Mom's mind dissolved long before her body did and, by the end, we believe she was unaware of how dire her situation was. That made her passing no less bearable than all those lives lost in the last six months. After Mom's passing, I vowed to her, and to my dear father, Edwin, that I would do everything I can to help eradicate Alzheimer's and other dementias. There is simply nothing worse than watching a loved one forget your name, look past you with glazed-over eyes, lose the ability to speak and, quite simply, wither away right in front of you.
Right now, some five million Americans are living with the disease. By 2050, that number will escalate to 16 million. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only disease in the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. In this year alone, the cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer's in this country will total $259 billion. Between 2000 and 2018, deaths from heart disease have decreased 7.8 % while deaths from Alzheimer's disease have increased a staggering 146 %. If you don't already know someone suffering from this disease, you will soon. It is a sad, unescapable fact that, as we age, we can't escape. Even worse, two-thirds of Alzheimer's sufferers are women, though we don't know why. We simply must do something now!
It is because of my passion and commitment to helping fund research to find a cure, or at least treatments, for Alzheimer's that I will be walking with my family in this year's Virtual Westchester Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sunday, October 4. Due to the coronavirus, we can't walk together as a united group but that just makes our commitment even stronger. And wherever you are, you can just throw on a purple shirt and join us in spirit. If you live locally, come walk with us! But, more important, I am asking you all to contribute generously to the Alzheimer's Association in honor of my Walk and in memory of my parents. Sadly, Alzheimer's was here long before Covid-19 and it will be here long after Covid-19. With your help, maybe, just maybe, we can find our First Survivor.
Much love and thanks,
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
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