“The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with Me” Campaign
The entire phrase is nothing more than reality… the truth. The only way to defeat Alzheimer’s and other related dementias is by being a dedicated and leader Alzheimer’s advocate. For years many patients, experts and family members have been spreading the word on early diagnosis and reuniting contributions for research studies and those in need of medical assistance and cannot afford it. This strong statement catches the eye as it involves everyone, from scientists and doctors to patients and family, and even people not related to this disease but happen to encounter this campaign along the way to work on in the news, and just by sharing what you saw you are inadvertently becoming an Alzheimer’s advocate. Our voice joined with others is what causes real actions that inspire reactions from those with power to create change.
Starts with Me
How can the cure for a disease start with me? Pretty simple. By just being aware, sharing the news, contributing your money and time to raise awareness or provide funding for research is a boost to getting closer on preventive treatments and even better the end of all related dementias. Being an Alzheimer’s advocate might feel like you are a small grain of sand in the immensity of adversities, but if we all give and take part of all awareness impulses, we will soon become a landslide that overpasses and destroys this terrible disease.
Fight the Stigma
Even with all the information available there are still little traces of stigma that revolve around all types of dementia and as an Alzheimer’s advocate it is your turn to fight all misinterpretations of this condition. Such a word like “dementia” creates a big stigma by itself, people think it is something related to:
- Going crazy.
- Acting irregularly.
- Losing the ability to think and reason about things.
- Not being able to do things on their own.
- Having violent phases.
- Among other misconceptions.
In a video shared by the Alzheimer’s Association, a group of people living with this illness talk about how others start treating them differently when they are told they are facing a person with Alzheimer’s, when it really is just the same old friend standing in front of them. Added to the devastating diagnosis is the way of how people will look and treat them differently. The stigma makes it harder to face the disease.
People lose the sense that those living with dementia are still human beings who feel and have emotions, that no matter the stage of the Alzheimer’s they simply have lost some of their cognitive and memory abilities. Michael, one of the Alzheimer’s advocates shown in the video, mentions something that tells how this stigma can also be silent, “if you tell somebody upfront that you have Alzheimer's, they seem to hold you differently”.
Part of the stigma that as an Alzheimer’s advocate that we must confront, is the fact that even if it is a person on the early stages, they are painted as if they have entirely forgotten about everything and are not capable of maintaining their job until the diseases progresses to a later phase. And this is something that a couple of ladies of the video had to endure when they lost their jobs because of Alzheimer’s.
The education must start for all people of all ages. Just like cancer had a certain stain and people were afraid that it was contagious, this can only be fought with awareness and teaching what the disease truly is and how it affects people. Simply go to YouTube and type in “dementia” or “Alzheimer's” and you will have thousands of choices to pick from to explain what the disease is, like the “What is Alzheimer’s disease?” video posted by the aboutalz.org.
Many organizations dedicated to create awareness and support those who have been diagnosed have raised the Alzheimer’s from a disease to a cause. Just like the Alzheimer’s Association created this campaign of “The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with Me”, there are many others joining forces and knowledge to get the word out there and make it louder so that everyone can hear. People with Alzheimer’s are just like you and me, with a difference that they know all the inside info that many of us ignore, however those are the ones that know what it truly is and how it really feels. Those are the people we should listen, make an echo of their voices and support them to keep teaching others like they have taught us…. to become Alzheimer’s advocates.
People like the great Tommy Dunne, who as he puts it on his Twitter profile “lives with dementia not suffering from it”, are great examples of how to be an Alzheimer’s advocate. He dedicates his time on going to schools and universities to educate the youth about dementia and with every speech he sees the way the students embrace it with open minds. I have had the honor of talking to Tommy through email and Twitter chats… no stigma, no apprehension, just the feeling that I am talking to someone with a great sense of humor and who has taught me more about dementia than any textbook or online information source ever could. For that, I thank you Tommy.
Take action, become an Alzheimer’s advocate now.