What starts as a forgetful moment slowly evolves into your loved one no longer remembering who you are. Alzheimer’s disease is devastating, and that’s why I’ve joined the fight to end it.
Since 1996, as a gerontological nurse practitioner, I’ve witnessed family after family come to terms with Alzheimer’s. Shortly after my mother died, I joined these families as my father’s own dementia diagnosis became clear. In 2014, I secured my Ph.D. to further commit myself to researching how to help families cope with life-changing diagnoses.
My research shows, again and again, that families such as mine are both discouraged and inspired by Alzheimer’s. The inspiration comes from teaming up with others who share this journey. I’m walking because I believe we need to help each other thrive on this path we did not choose — to walk in each other’s shoes for a little while.
In Oregon, more than 63,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, with more than 181,000 people – usually loved ones – caring for them. That equates to more than 206 million hours in unpaid, around-the-clock care.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, the only disease among the top 10 without a cure or even a means to slow its progression. While there have been some promising clinical trials as of late, there is no proven treatment.
Our research has found, however, that families can successfully meet the demands of caregiving if they are provided with programs proven to ward off stress and burden — and thus protect their own health. The Alzheimer’s Association provides free support to families facing this disease. But in order to help people, it takes a lot of money. That’s why I’m joining the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
On Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, several thousand people will gather at Portland International Raceway, walking for our future. The Walk to End Alzheimer's is a moving, empowering event, and a call to action to be leaders in this fight.
Please consider joining us Sept. 10, or donating to a Walk Team. Let's all work toward a better world: a world without Alzheimer's disease.
For more information about the Walk or to learn anything you need to know about Alzheimer’s, visit www.alz.org.
Allison Lindauer, Ph.D., N.P., is an assistant professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine; and director of Outreach, Recruitment and Education, OHSU Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center.