The longest day of the year–the official start of summer–occurs on June 21 this year. To me, this day is no longer Summer Solstice. Forever more, it will be the day to fight Alzheimer’s. In fact, the whole month of June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and purple is the color to wear.
“The day with the most light is the day we fight.”
Around the world, more than 55 million people live with some form of dementia, with the majority (60-80%) having Alzheimer’s. Two out of three of those are women. In America today, 6.5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s. That number is projected to grow to 13 million by 2050.
Dementia is the umbrella term for a decline in memory, reasoning, or other cognitive skills that significantly interferes with daily living. It is a degenerative brain disease that progressively worsens over time. There is no cure. Not yet.
Most people on the outside only see memory loss, but dementia also affects behavior, mood, and personality. Dementia dehumanizes the sufferer. It is a hideous, slow-moving disease that can cause depression, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, weight loss, and much more.
I first encountered the devastation of Alzheimer’s as a teenager when my grandmother had it. In 2020, my father was diagnosed with vascular dementia. He died fourteen months later. My mother is currently fighting mild cognitive impairment.
These past years, I have been the primary caregiver for both my parents. It’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever been called to do, yet I’ve experienced special moments with both of them that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The Solstice is the appropriate day to highlight this disease because every day with dementia is the longest day.
People suffering with dementia have good days and they have bad days; they are all long. After answering the same question 25 times–about how to do something that they have always known how to do–or worse, realizing they no longer recognize you, caregivers can feel that the day will never end.
I’m ready to fight! Will you join me?
Put on some purple and flood social media with #ENDALZ, #GoPurple, and #TheLongestDay. If you know someone personally who currently suffers from this horrible disease or who did suffer, go to Shine a Light on Alzheimer’s and make an official photo of them. Post this on social media with the statement “I’m shining a light for . . .”
This year, I’m still too busy with caregiving to do more than draw attention to this disease and the need to fight for the cure. But in future years, I hope to be more actively involved in the fight.
The alz.org website provides all the answers and resources you need. They offer support groups, a 24-hour helpline, and handy guides such as the 10 early signs of dementia and how that differs from normal age-related memory issues.
Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Since the year 2000, deaths from heart disease have decreased 7.3%, while deaths from dementia have increased 145%. It’s time for a cure.