My story is not rare, as I am one of millions of people that became a caregiver to a person with dementia. My mother, Grace Whitten, lost her battle with vascular dementia after five years. I am aware of the emotional, physical and financial toll this disease takes.
She was a local award-winning journalist and editor. She finally retired at age 75 when this disease started to present itself. She was passionate about her life’s work and was on pace to work many more years.
Every health care provider and every emergency room visit were always the same diagnosis of normal aging. This disease has reached epidemic proportions masquerading itself as “old age,” and families and health care providers continue to struggle with education and support.
Doctors deserve education to diagnose this disease earlier to slow the progression of the disease. Families deserve answers. And most of all, victims of this disease deserve a cure so they can live their life to the fullest.
With early diagnosis, research, family support and education we want to spare this hardship for other families.
For these reasons, I have asked my elected officials to prioritize this vulnerable population. Increased research funding is vital, but so too are enhanced care and support services for individuals and their caregivers.
Thankfully, my congressman, Adam Kinzinger, is taking an active stance on this issue by co-sponsoring the bipartisan Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (H.R. 1873) and Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act of 2019 (H.R. 1903). The two bills are critical to improving access to resources and enhancing quality of life for those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Please join me in thanking Rep. Kinzinger for ensuring that Alzheimer's is brought to the forefront of the congressional agenda. Together, we have the opportunity to help those struggling with this terrible disease until a prevention or cure is found.