The personal side of the Alzheimer’s awareness movement

The Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum is taking place this week in Washington, D.C. For those attending and promoting Alzheimer’s awareness, a big thank you. Alzheimer’s is quickly becoming a national health crisis, and we must come together as a nation to address it.

For most of us, the battle against Alzheimer’s is very personal. For me, it’s the reason why I started The Memories Project. My dad was not a celebrity or a hometown hero. He was just an average guy.

But he was my father, and he did not deserve to suffer from Alzheimer’s. No one deserves to suffer from this terrible disease.

I can’t be in the nation’s capital to be a part of the forum, but if I had the opportunity to share a personal memory of how our family was touched by Alzheimer’s, I would share this snapshot in time, my last visit home when my father still lived there:

My dad was restless and paced the living room, while trying to get the zipper on his jacket to work. Suddenly, he turned around and looked straight at my mom, who was sitting on the couch next to me. He asked with a tone of distress, “Where’s Jane?”

My mom is Jane. My parents were married for 40 years.

My mom’s face crumpled internally, the words striking her skin as painfully as physical blows. She answered in an even tone, “I’m right here.”

There were many other painful memories that Alzheimer’s created for our family, but this one stands out starkly in my mind and makes my heart hurt. It was difficult to know who to have more sympathy for, my dad suffering from advanced memory loss or my mom forced to deal with the fact that her partner of 40 years could no longer remember who she was.

This is why I am an advocate for Alzheimer’s Awareness.

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