This year, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This puts him in good company as 5.3 million Americans are estimated to have the disease. It also makes me 2 to 3 times more likely to get the disease than people with no family history. Today, the Times reported that 2 studies have found a single gene linked with the disease, which they claim is the first time replication studies have shared a result.
Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease and each of these little steps forward should both be celebrated and used as leverage for more resources.
There are more reasons to care about finding a cure for the disease than I can list here, but let’s use one you’re likely to be thinking about already: the cost of health care. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s and dimentia triple the health care costs for Americans 65 and older.
Each of the last two years, I’ve asked for your support with the annual New York City Memory Walk. My team, the “Memory Keepers”, included 23 members who collectively raised $10,212 (or thereabouts) last year. Amazingly this was good enough to rank us 22nd nationally. My good friend Marcel Agueros organizes our team each year in honor of his father, who suffers from the disease. He notes last year’s event fell short of the $1 million goal, which means we weren’t able “to raise $4 for each of the 250,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s Disease (a conservative estimate) and their families/caregivers.”
Our team needs your help. $5, $10 or $100–whatever you can afford to give will be appreciated. You can use this link to donate to our team*, or donate to the national organization if you’d rather.
And just a word or two about Grandpa Humphrey. Shortly after birth he was given to his father’s best friend, who raised him like his own, in Wisconsin. Grandpa graduated from University of Wisconsin and joined the Armed Services during WWII, just days after marrying my grandmother. He was on the Normandy beaches days after the invasion and spent most of the next few months serving from Paris as an expert in tank repair. After the war, they returned to Portage, Wisconsin, ran a chain of women’s clothing stores and raised three children–my mother was the middle child. In his semi-retirement, my grandfather held a number of public offices, supported the arts and made oil paintings in his free time. They traveled quite extensively–to Africa and Asia, Europe and assorted cruises, and eventually, a snow bird existence split between Wisconsin and Florida. They always sent us loads of pictures from their trips. My grandmother loved taking photographs of flower arrangements and my grandfather snapped photos of friends they made on their trips. As my grandfather’s health has declined, they’ve now become home-bound, living on Swan Lake and depending upon my Uncle Jim and assorted friends and neighbors to provide for their care. I’ve never heard Grandpa say an unkind word, and he’s the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it.
*I’m worried the link won’t work. Just in case: you can use the “search for a walker” function and use Marcel’s name to find the team page.