Alzheimer’s/Dementia in the Media

21 May

Just four years ago, it was challenging to find reports, news articles, or any information that would be helpful while we were navigating the frightening road of my husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  Most of our guidance came from signing him up for research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Memory Center as a volunteer study participant.  For Ernie’s willingness to allow studies of his brain, spinal fluid, and blood samples, we gained what information we could regarding  this unfortunate disease.  We also had a local friend whose husband was diagnosed about the same time as Ernie and, together, we joined the U. of Penn. studies and clung to each other for any news we could get about research, services, and local help.

Today, Alzheimer’s disease is in the news daily:  Radio, television, magazines and newspapers publicize multiple articles on the disease;  Pharmaceutical companies tout their products  for memory-loss in commercials several times a day;  Conversation is ongoing as talk show hosts and comedians tell stories about “brain farts;” And middle-aged people, worldwide, openly are conversing with one another about their fears of occasional memory lapses.

Alzheimer’s is now a household word and it’s no wonder!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 68 seconds a person is diagnosed with a form of dementia.  With Baby Boomers approaching old age, the number of possible diagnoses is said to triple.   Public awareness is heightened for all ages.  (As I presented the topic to college students this spring, I found  student bodies talking about it with their own stories about grand parents, aunts, uncles or neighbors who experienced some version of dementia.)

No doubt, the more media this disease gets — the better!   The recent Alzheimer March on Washington raised more awareness and support for funding from  President Obama, and hopefully, our Congress.  We can’t ignore the disease and, fortunately, are taking steps to openly talk about it.  All of this has occurred in less than four years!

It is my prayer that, along with the media attention,  public awareness and additional funding, we can find a cure.  It may be too late for my husband, Ernie, to benefit but, as he shared with me and his U. of Pennsylvania neurologist in 2008,  I may not be cured of this horrible disease in my lifetime, but if I can volunteer to have my brain and body studied to help others in the future, than I have done all I can do.  We need to get the word out!

Let’s keep talking!

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