This article originally appeared in the 2022 Impact Report. Become a member today to get access to additional exclusive content, meetings and insights into the Alzheimer’s and dementia public policy community.
In October 2019, at the age of 54, I joined a club no one wants to be a member of: I was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an early stage of memory loss or other loss of cognitive ability that can be an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to my own diagnosis, I thought MCI or Alzheimer’s only affected older people. That was the beginning and
end of my knowledge of this relentless and fatal disease.
Immediately, I became a student of the disease because I live with the cold realization that my MCI may develop into Alzheimer’s. I searched for other people who were facing the same challenges as my family. I wanted to learn the best way to attack this diagnosis. I wanted to find people like me who wanted to fight.
Some things were natural for me — like taking my passion for exercise and healthy living and signing up for a couple of IRONMAN triathlons, dedicating each of the 140 miles to folks like me who are living with dementia. Others — like getting involved politically — were a bit outside
my comfort zone. But, as a firm believer that while you can’t choose what happens to you, you can choose your response, I decided to say yes to everything.
I joined the AIM Leadership Society as a way to tell my story and make an impact. Like many people, I don’t love the idea of money in politics, but millions of people just like me need Congress to take action in this fight. The Leadership Society ensures that the issues of
people living with dementia and their caregivers are heard clearly by congressional leadership across both parties. I know that as an AIM Leadership Society member, I’m helping to steward the cause and move our priorities forward.
When I ask for support, I focus on the potential connection between dementia and other diseases like hypertension and diabetes. The way I see it, if we’re learning more about these conditions, we’re learning more about Alzheimer’s, too.
There’s a lot of good that has been done in the fight against Alzheimer’s because of good people coming together. I’m not conceding this fight. That’s what I want my kids to know. It doesn’t really matter if I succeed or not; what matters is how hard I fight — and I hope others will join me. It’s my goal to be a strong example for my kids.