It’s been a busy year since I became an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer advocate. I’ve met with Senators and Congresswomen in Washington DC, attended town hall meetings, written letters to the editor, blogged and walked the halls of the California State Capitol, all to publicize the urgent need for action against Alzheimer’s disease. Last week I experienced something new — getting drenched to the bone in driving rain to raise awareness for the cause! (See “before” and “after” pictures below.) Continue reading “Spirits High Despite Unseasonal Deluge at SF’s 2013 Alzheimer’s Walk” »
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My name is Zack Smith, and I am an intern with the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada chapter. The Alzheimer’s Association and its mission have become very important to me over my three years of involvement with the cause. Having said that, I think I speak for all those facing Alzheimer’s disease in hoping for a day when the Association’s services will no longer be as necessary—a world without Alzheimer’s disease. As an advocate, and as a young person, I invite you to join me in making this vision a reality.
I would not be who I am today without my grandmother. Her diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me, and is the reason for my continued involvement. She entered the late stages just as I was preparing to graduate high school. My grandmother was like a mother to me, and words cannot express how hopeless and hurt I felt watching her slowly lose her mind. Everything that could have gone wrong on my journey with Alzheimer’s disease did go wrong. Valuable family treasures were stolen from caregivers we trusted. Grandma’s own three children withdrew completely, and I blamed myself because I believed so much pain could have been prevented had I not maintained such a tremendous sense of denial toward Grandma’s condition. When I went away to college I felt I had to choose between my grandmother and my grades as more and more issues arose in my absence. My grandfather completely lost his health caring for the woman he loves. Eventually we had to place Grandma into a dementia care facility. It is hard for me to visit with her for more than thirty minutes to an hour; let alone walk into the locked dementia center. I find it rather painful to reminisce upon my childhood memories with Grandma because I know that seeing her now is nothing like the sense of joy one used to get being greeted by her former self. Family holidays are hard, especially when I set the table and remind myself that one extra place setting is no longer necessary. Continue reading “The voices of our generation are crucial in this fight” »
After two days of inspiration and education, advocates headed to Capitol Hill to meet with their respective legislators and ask for their continued support in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Here’s how the meetings went for a few of the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter advocates:
Over 900 Alzheimer’s advocates have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 25th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum. We have asked attendees from the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter to share their insights from the sessions they have attended. Here is what they had to say on Day 1:
On April 22, volunteers from around the country will convene in Washington, D.C. for the 25th Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum — the nation’s largest Alzheimer’s policy event. Since 1989, dedicated Alzheimer’s advocates have met annually to share their personal experiences, learn about legislative initiatives, celebrate policy efforts and urge elected officials to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority. This year a record number of advocates are slated to attend. As the Association’s new volunteer ambassador to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, I will attend the Forum for the first time.
Expectations are high that the 25th Forum will make a meaningful difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s, and there’s good reason for optimism. Recent advocacy efforts have produced important results, chief among them the passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and the release of the first-ever National Alzheimer’s Plan. The fight against Alzheimer’s was in the national spotlight earlier this year, when President Obama mentioned Alzheimer’s disease in his State of the Union address, underscoring the critical need for medical research to address Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Continue reading “25 Years of Making our Voice Heard: Let 2013 be the Year of Real Change” »