Speak Out About Alzheimer's During November!
I'm glad it's November. Glad, because the air is getting crisper and it's almost time for my intergenerational family to gather around the Thanksgiving table.
I'm even more glad because November is both National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month.
Because of these designations, many more people are talking this month about the issues that I speak about all year-long. Among them - the skyrocketing incidence of Alzheimer's disease; the importance of early detection and proper diagnosis; successful aging strategies that all Americans, and especially baby boomers, should embrace; the tremendous responsibilities of caregiving for loved ones; and the scarce public resources to help families with the enormous financial burden of care.
A lot of awareness-raising goes on during these next few weeks. The media, thankfully, jumps on the issues more. Legislators become more cognizant of the extent and enormity of Alzheimer's disease and caregiving. Those in the throes of the disease and/or caregiving gain recognition. Others become educated. Many are drawn into the cause and become dedicated advocates.
Amidst all this, more real-life stories unfold.
Recently, I had the honor of meeting Carmen Serrano of Philadelphia, a caregiver since she was 22 for her mother. Carmen's mom has been declining further and further as a result of Alzheimer's disease over the past 20 years. Twenty years, with the last eight in the late stages of the disease. She now resides in a nursing home, strategically located near Carmen's office so Carmen can visit her each and every day. Carmen's devotion and love are boundless.
And, the other day, I overheard one of our social workers on the phone, speaking with a husband who just learned the news of his wife's diagnosis. He was devastated. He wanted, needed to know more. He craved emotional support. He needed to know what the future would hold for his wife-and for himself.
Whether you as a caregiver have been dealing with this heartbreaking disease for one day or 20 years, I encourage you to share your story. Speak to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, strangers. Do it year-round. But do it especially during November when more people's ears are perked up. By letting the nation know that there are real people behind this disease, we will change the future course of care and cure.