If you are in your 40's or older, and your parents are in their 80's, there is a 50% chance your mother or father will have Alzheimer's disease. Many get the disease younger, and some even get it in their 60's and 70's. But the majority will succumb some time in their 80’s. Because there is no prevention, every single one of our aging parents are at tremendous risk.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is overwhelming. Emotionally, how strong will you be when your mother can't remember you're her child? Physically, how strong will you be when your father raises his fist to strike you believing you to be an intruder? Financially, how strong will you be when the bills for their care start to arrive?
Take it from one who's been there - we are NOT prepared to deal with this disease. In my eleven years of caring for my father, I never met a person who said, "Alzheimer's disease? Piece of cake." Instead, it's the telling of horror stories few are willing to talk about publicly. Or the sharing of sacrifices made to keep our loved ones in their own homes. Or the dilemma of post traumatic stress that swamps surviving spouses. For our parents' sake, for our sake, and that of our children, we can’t forget without a fight.
And I have a fight with you, Florida legislature. Why in the world would you allocate $15 million dollars a year to Alzheimer’s research, build the Byrd Center, the largest free-standing Alzheimer’s research center in the nation, fill its labs with leading scientists, set up state-wide collaborations with other Alzheimer’s labs, and then yank $10 million away from it? I understand the need to care for our elderly through outreach programs. Trust me, I understand tightening the belt. But what you’re doing is strangling the only hope there is for defeating Alzheimer’s disease – scientific research. Let my family’s experience stand as a warning – our current population of 80-year-olds are the first wave of an epidemic of Alzheimer’s that will crash into every living room throughout our state if we don’t do everything we can to stop it. Research can and will stop it, without that hope we are in for a nightmare. Heed the warning, listen to your constituents, and protect this research. As the only fighting chance we have, honor your elders and treat this research with the respect it deserves. Get your hands off it.
Be alarmed, voting citizens of Florida. For this kind of political axing to occur, your representative doesn’t understand this disease, or how its playing out in our homes across the state. We can teach them. Please share your story here - firstname.lastname@example.org - and I will see to it that every single one of your letters gets to the Governor of Florida. Tell everyone you know, everyone with an aging loved one in Florida, to start fighting by writing.
Please include your contact information. And send this request to as many people as you can.
Start writing, it’s time these stories got told.
Patty McNally Doherty