Stop everything you are doing and think about what makes you the person you are. What if I told you that one day you may not recall who you are, your most cherished memories and you may even forget the ones you love. Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic that impacts more that 5 million Americans a year. In your lifetime it is highly likely for you or someone you know to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Back in 2001 my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Watching my grandfather struggle as his disease became progressively worse was one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen my family go through. Not only was it hard on him it was especially difficult on my grandma, who remained his main caretaker during his fight. I had never realized how this disease could impact a whole family until it happened to ours. Watching my dad slowly lose his father was absolutely heart breaking. I have heard many times that Alzheimer’s is “just what happens when you get older”, I beg to differ. No one should have to watch their loved one suffer to remember who they are. I will forever cherish the memories we keep alive whenever we remember him.
During the past 7 years of being involved in the Alzheimer’s association I have heard countless stories about loved ones who have suffered through this terrible disease. The reason I have dedicated a large portion of my time to bringing awareness to this horrible disease is not just for my grandfather, but for all of the families who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. During the Miss Sierra Nevada scholarship program I dedicated the talent portion of competition to all families who have experienced a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. For me the Miss America Organization gave me another outlet to show my passion for Alzheimer’s awareness and gave me a platform to education more people. Irradiating Alzheimer’s from this world is just one of the many things I hope to see during my lifetime.
What you can do
Share your story! The more you talk about something, the more you find out what you have common with other people. Talking about your situation or your family’s situation can help both you and your loved ones cope with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Another way you can get involved is to participate in The Longest Day. June 21st, the summer solstice, is longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. How to get involved: First register on alz.org, then pick an activity that you love or that your loved one who has Alzheimer’s enjoys. Then get a group together to participate and raise awareness.
Lastly you can join me and many others by participating in your local Alzheimers Awareness Walk to End Alzheimers. Go to alz.org to enter your zip code to find the walk that is closest to you. Then you can create a team to walk with millions who walk every year to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.
Always remember #MemoriesMatter!
Miss Sierra Nevada 2017
Keep up with my journey on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @MissSierraNevada