Today is World Alzheimer’s Day.

I will not ask you to jog, run, eat rubber chicken in a  hotel ballroom, gamble, pour ice over your head, shop, or attend a fashion show to honor this day.

No, the project I have in mind is simple:  It’s called, Get Your Head Out of The Sand.

I can throw numbers at you:  750,000 Canadians, 8 million Americans, already have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (AD).  And every 68 seconds, another person joins those numbers. Worldwide, the statistics are staggering.

But the most important number is zero: None.  That is how many of those will survive.  None.  Everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has received a death sentence.

Because – again. that important number, none — there is not one drug on the market that will alter the course of the disease. Zero. Not one.

In the middle of my seven years as a wife to a beloved man with Alzheimer’s, what I wanted more than anything was that pill, that prescription, but, no matter where I looked, it wasn’t there.

I could not do anything to help my husband fight the disease.  My sense  of helplessness was profound.  That was why I joined the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, (ADDF) and helped found ADDF/Canada. ADDF’s sole purpose is  the discovery and development of drugs for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And all money raised in Canada goes directly to Canadian researchers across the country.

What I could not do for my beloved husband, perhaps, through ADDF, an army of us can do for the next generation.And we need to be an army, to have a voice as powerful as the voices that forced attention to AIDS and to breast cancer.  We all have a stake in this.  We may become one of the statistics — the one out of every three over 80,  the one in eight over 65, who will get AD.  We may become  one of the emotionally and financially exhausted caregivers. We will certainly be one of the taxpayers who will bear the cost.

Society cannot afford to lose this much brain power. And society will not be able to afford the billions that this disease will cost as the numbers grow. The mounting cost of care – already over $200 billion in the US  — can break the health care systems across North America.

So, how to honor World Alzheimer’s Day?  Make a donation to research.  The recent $31million initiative sponsored by the Canadian government is a good start, but our personal contributions are still vital.  As Dr. Howard Fillit, the Chief Science officer of ADDF wrote  in a recent letter. “Last year, we were only able to fund 10 percent of the high-quality drug discovery research proposals we received”.

There is no shortage of ideas.  Scientists across the world are pursuing many different routes to the treatment/cure of Alzheimer’s  The thought that the drug we want might be out there, but would not get to market because we didn’t have the funding – that’s outrageous.

Please help.  ADDF and ADDF/Canada are registered, tax deductible charities.  Checks should be sent to ADDF, 57 West 57Th Street, Suite 904, NY. NY, 10019. Canadian checks should be identified as  ADDF Canada and sent to that address  c/o Joan Sutton Straus. Being thrifty, we are using the same address to save money on overhead: Every dime you give will go to research.

And, of course, all proceeds from the sale of my book, The Alzheimer’s Diary, One woman’s experience from caregiver to widow benefit ADDF/Canada.

 

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