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Alzheimer's Advocacy: Can We Do More?

I have an acquaintance who recently moved to a fairly large midwestern city to work on her doctorate. She is studying how birds hear. Evidently, there is a link between how birds and humans hear, and she is receiving a full scholarship to research this with the hopes of helping people experiencing hearing loss.

This is a good thing. I love being able to hear, and I love birds. I support these efforts for sure, anything to help others.

As I thought about this, though, I began to have some uneasy thoughts and questions about research and cures for other things. I started to wonder why we have not made more progress in finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Thinking out loud

Now, I don't claim to be a medical expert, but I feel like I am fairly educated now on this, and I don't get it. People have had dementia for ages, and we have this huge portion of our population (baby boomers) who are growing older.

Why are we not moving the mark better in both prevention and treatment?

Beginning my advocacy work

In 2012, I began my advocacy work to help push legislation that required teenagers under 17 years to have parental consent to tan in salons.

As a melanoma survivor, I was willing to lobby with our state legislators in Albany, New York, to protect our children dangerous ultraviolet rays emitted by tanning machines.

Eventually, state laws were passed banning minors from using these tanning services.

Time to press for legislation

I used my voice to make a change that I believed in. So, what does this have to do with Alzheimer's disease? Well, folks, I am starting to think it's time to begin pressing for legislation to assist caregivers and to help find a cure and ways to prevent this horrible disease.

I know that there are many folks doing research. I have read Alzheimer's Association site, and I see some signs of encouragement, but I wonder if we can do more.

My Alzheimer's advocacy wish list

If I were sitting with state legislators tomorrow, here is what I would ask for.

Find a cure, and while you are at it, find prevention!

Whatever it takes. The cost of this disease is immeasurable in terms of physical and mental health, in terms of lost wages and other economic concerns, in terms of broken hearts and dreams.

If we can fund research for discovering how sparrows hear music, we can support additional research to prevent and cure this disease that debilitates patients and their loved ones alike. Alzheimer's disease is a community-wide problem that deserves community-wide efforts at solutions. It affects every community, regardless of where one is.

While we are at it, let's get other sectors involved

I love how the National Football League has rallied around supporting those with breast cancer. The pink gloves and cleats highlighting the "Crucial Catch" campaign have been so inspiring.

As someone who used to work for the American Cancer Society, I am all about the private sector chiming in and raising funding and awareness for worthy causes. But, can we also do more in efforts to eliminate Alzheimer's and other dementias and brain diseases?

Can we find a way to help our grandmothers and grandfathers and moms and dads and sisters and brothers? Can we find our voice in advocating for others who can no longer advocate for themselves? How about you, what ideas might you have in activating decision-makers and influencers?

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