Advocacy May Not Be What You Think
While some may think of "advocacy" and picture a woman at a podium in front of a rally or a man in a suit walking the halls of Congress, that's not always the case. Consider that Google defines advocacy as "public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy."
So, while the power suits in high-volume, official spaces can be a form of advocacy, the reality of being an advocate is that this can look different for everyone.
Advocacy is all about your story
Advocacy begins and ends with your story. As people who have a profound experience with a disease for which there is no cure, the details of your journey with Alzheimer's are important to share. It illustrates the problem for people who aren't you, therefore have not lived through your experience.
Think about the empowerment that comes with the community you found here, how hearing about the shared experience of others can be a salve to the injuries of Alzheimer's disease.
Think about the little bit of peace that you feel knowing that there are others who are experiencing something similar to what you are experiencing right now. This connection is an amazing reason to share your story. And the sharing of that story publicly, as we connect within the comments and forums, is a form of advocacy.
Giving a voice to your story
From there, you might decide to give further voice to your story. Perhaps you share it on Facebook, in an email, or a letter for fundraising purposes, like the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
How I approach advocacy for Alzheimer's
On my participant page, there is a spot for me to share this story so that anyone who's interested in donating can read about me and my Poppop - my reason for walking. I then share that story on social media, such as Facebook when I'm launching my fundraiser and LinkedIn when I'm rallying new businesses to join the cause.
I might write my story, the details of which can paint a picture for those outside the 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer's and their loved ones to know and see and feel what we know and see and feel each day.
In sharing my story, I hope to empower them to lend their time or their money to this worthwhile cause.
The purpose of effecting change
Finally, you may choose to lend this voice that's carrying your story to organizations, like the Alzheimer's Impact Movement, with the purpose of effecting change.
As we have realized, by this point in our advocacy journey, what happened with my Poppop, the interactions with family, the caregiving mishaps and blunders, the health care discussions, are not solely unique to me!
I have a story about how my Poppop told me repeatedly on his Alzheimer's journey that the doctor told him he's as healthy as a horse, including his brain. Missing the crucial pieces of information that the plaque build-up indicative of Alzheimer's could not be seen with the imaging system of that time.
The members of this community will likely have a similar story.
Getting others to address the problem
By lending this story and my voice telling this story to the Alzheimer's Impact Movement, or AIM for short, I'm able to let my elected officials know that this is a problem, I know because someone who I love with my whole heart experienced this, and I don't want this to happen to anyone else's loved one. I can ask for help for those who, unlike my Poppop, are still here.
So yes, sometimes advocacy is stepping up to a podium and trying not to cry as you share the beautiful life of a man who lives on in your heart, but, more often, it is in smaller, everyday interactions that help spread awareness publicly for our cause. And it's a beautiful thing.
Want to hear more about advocacy for Alzheimer's from the community? Search our forums.
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