National Alzheimer's Month Recognizes Courage, Devotion
The President, like many Presidents before him, has once again proclaimed November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It was the late Ronald Reagan who first signed such a proclamation; the year was 1982 and the momentous decree called for the nation’s first National Alzheimer’s Awareness Week.
How ironic, as it turns out. Ironic, of course, because the late President eventually had Alzheimer’s disease himself and because it was his public disclosure about his condition that ultimately shed light on the disease in such a powerful way.
While the overall intent of the declaration has remained consistent—raising awareness of the brain disorder, the message, just like the incidence of the disease, has gotten wider over time. Today, the proclamation calls for a month, not just a week, and it talks about both research and care, about both the individuals with the disease and their families.
It reads, in part, “We recognize the dignity and courage of the men and women living with Alzheimer's disease. We also honor the devoted family members and caretakers who bring them love and comfort, and we underscore our dedication to finding a cure for this tragic disease…
“National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to pay tribute to the courageous individuals facing this disease and remember the precious lives lost due to Alzheimer's. All Americans appreciate the strong support and dedication of the families, medical professionals, scientific researchers, and caregivers who are helping build a society that values the life and dignity of every person.”
How important it is to recognize all of the above, to raise awareness of all of the above. Both research and care are critical to improving quality of life. Both individuals with the disease and caregivers—family caregivers and professional caregivers—are walking this journey hand-in-hand. “Courageous” is a word that labels them all.
President Bush called on the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities. There is a lot going on—lectures, screenings of films related to Alzheimer’s disease, walks, fundraising events, open houses at Alzheimer’s facilities, art displays, etc., plus thousands of sites, as part of AFA’s national initiatives, that will be holding candle lighting ceremonies on November 13 and free memory screenings on November 18.
Each and every one of these activities is significant. The more, the better. The more, the better year-round, in fact. Only then will we raise the awareness we need to fight this heartbreaking disease—and give individuals with the disease and their families the education, care and dignity they deserve.