From walks to conversations to prayer groups, raising awareness of this deadly disease
Posted in , Jun 1, 2022
I have been known to joke that every conceivable malady and cause has its own awareness month. September is the champion, with 20 or so (I’m still counting). Not that I’m making fun. Each and every one of these issues needs all the attention and support it can garner, even pediculosis.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, which for those of you who follow this blog know is a cause close to my heart (and brain). I’m even willing to put aside my aversion to purple, the official color of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, to support it.
I have been writing a book about my concerns regarding Alzheimer’s, exploring my own fear of the disease given my family history. My mother, both her sisters, one brother and their father all died from it. Inevitably I wonder if I’m next. I’ve been undergoing tests and counseling to find an answer, if an answer can be found, and writing about my mother’s struggle and how our family dealt with it.
Sometimes my preoccupation with my brain health feels self-involved, even selfish. Yet I have learned through this blog that there are so many people who share a fear of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. (It’s also the number one health concern of Americans over 50, even though cancer and heart disease kill many more.) One in nine Americans has Alzheimer’s. That number will nearly triple over the next 40 years if we don’t find a cure, and no one will survive Alzheimer’s until we do. We think of it as a disease of aging, and that’s mostly true. But when you consider how a person’s dementia impacts their family then it is fair to say that millions of people of all ages suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s in one way or another. What family’s heart hasn’t been broken?
The Alzheimer’s Association website alz.org offers invaluable information and many ways you can show your support, including a day at work when everyone wears purple. That may seem trivial but every effort, even symbolic, raises awareness of this devastating condition and opens up conversations we need to have. Among the other things you can do is join a memory walk sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association or a memory bike ride, outdoor or indoor. Check their website for dates in your area and other activities and opportunities to help raise funds for a cure.
If you have a loved one living in a memory care facility, why not spend a little more time with them your next visit or add extra visits to your calendar this month?
Alzheimer’s challenges our faith as well as our brains. Commit to pray every day for the month of June for those who are suffering, their families and especially their caregivers. Pray for the scientists who are seeking a cure. Why not start a prayer group at your church dedicated to Alzheimer’s and other dementias? It is a near certainty that members of your congregation are struggling with the disease. And don’t forget your own brain health. There are many easy steps you can take to protect yourself from dementia. Start your research at alz.org.
And yes, if you have some time left over, please say a prayer for me. Now excuse me while I go shopping for something purple to wear.