Observe Brain Disease Awareness Month
In June, we observe Brain Disease Awareness Month. I can think of no better way to bring about awareness for Alzheimer’s and dementia than by using your voice to mobilize your government representatives.
You may not believe this, I know that politics can make anyone cynical, but one of the ways that our representatives cast their votes is by receiving input from their constituents.
As members of this community, each and every one of us is affected by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Those areas in which your needs are not being met, those problems that you’re having trouble solving on your own, your government representative should hear about that. Why? Because, as you’ve discovered if you’ve been poking around and sharing your experiences within this community, your experiences are not unique. They are likely the same experiences that many others are facing. Alone and collectively your strifes, voices, and opinions should matter to your representative.
In April, I had the pleasure to partake in some advocacy events with the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), an advocacy organization that works in close proximity with the Alzheimer’s Association. I have a degree in political science from Penn State and have been active in politics since before I could vote, but even I learned a few things at these events that I’d like to share with you.
Technology makes things easy
Alzimpact.org provides a wealth of information about what goals the organization is working on at the federal and state level. (As you may know, resources for caregivers and patients may come from Washington DC or the state capitol, in my case, Harrisburg!) You can find out from this website what actions the organization needs help with and perform them as needed.
Good news? Your representatives are more accessible than you think. Of course, you can call, write a letter or send an email, but you can also Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, shoot a video, and tag/send it. Whatever you feel compelled to do, do it! As a member of AIM, which is not required to take action, the organization asks you to log your interactions so that it may keep track and follow up.
Your voice doesn’t stop there
In addition to letting your senator or representative hear your story, it may be beneficial to reach out to other senators and representatives. For those of you who didn’t grow up watching Schoolhouse Rock and “I’m Just a Bill,” legislation goes through many steps to become a law.
Sometimes what is needed is to get a bill scheduled for a vote, which can only be done by a leader of the group. This person may not be your direct representative but they fill a role that’s needed for a functioning government. So if you’re passionate about enhancing caregiver support in Pennsylvania, as I am, you may need to reach out to the senator who is the majority leader for the Committee on Aging & Youth. Ask them to please put this excellent bill up for a vote. And you may be rewarded in seeing that just that happens!
In this together
We’re all in this together. We can’t make significant advancements on a disease affecting 6 million Americans alone. While we can do very little for the heartbreaking things we are going through right now, we can share that story with someone in power to affect the greater good. And I hope you choose to do just that in June!
Have you checked out the stories submitted by other community members?