Thursday, April 16, 2015

Death and Taxes

April is a month that makes me think of death and taxes. April 15 came with alarming speed as for the first time in a decade, I filed a joint return. Of course we used a handy-dandy program to plug in the numbers, but what can I say, other than taxes are a little bit complicated. Bottom line turned up a shocking sum that I owed in taxes. Even paying what I thought was an unreasonable amount of quarterly estimated taxes throughout 2014, I wound up in debt to the IRS and to the state of Missouri.

Now, to prepare for the current year. Last year’s estimated taxes were only about a third of this year’s amount. Ouch! For all my complaints about taxes, I feel fortunate that I have a great retirement plan.  

What is it they say about death and taxes? April is also the month that hurts my heart. Jim left this world April 18, ten years ago. A decade. It doesn’t seem possible that it could be that long ago when I can remember that day so plainly. Funny, how the more you want to forget something, the less likely you are to do it.

The only positive thing I can say about Jim’s death is that it gave me back the man I knew before dementia. During the years struggling in the grip of the disease, it came to a point where the person he was faded, and he became a different person. In order to make it through that tough time, I often refused to compare who he was to who he had been. It was easier to accept the unacceptable changes and love him “as is.”

After Jim’s death, I eventually was able to embrace the man he was before the disease. I could smile at old photos and memories before the dark days of dementia. I could remember our Colorado vacations, our trips to Oregon, and our big adventure of building our own home. So many good memories to outweigh the sad times.

Life is a balance: good and bad, smiles and tears, joy and pain. You can’t fully appreciate one without the other. If you were never sad, you wouldn’t appreciate being happy. Part of the wonder of life is that we don’t know what is going to happen the next day. Life can change in a heartbeat. Our world can turn upside down and it may take years, or decades, for it to righten again.

Ben Franklin said that death and taxes were the only two certain things in life. As for taxes, I guess, it means we do have income, and we can be thankful for that. It’s hard to find much good to say about death unless we can say we lived fully until that time. Jim lived fully until dementia made that impossible.

On April 18, I want to remember Jim’s life and not his death. I want to remember his laugh, his corny jokes, and most of all, his loving heart.

Copyright © April 2015 by L.S. Fisher


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Unlikely Friendships

You’ve always heard of fighting like dogs and cats, so Harold was concerned when the stray kitten showed up on our doorstep. It was a little worse for wear: tail torn off and bloody back legs. The kitten was dehydrated and hungry. What else can you do when a teeny kitten refuses to leave, but just sits there mewing much louder than you’d think possible?

Enter Neptune into the household ruled by Lucy. Just a short year before, Lucy had wormed her way into our hearts in the exact same manner—a stray who took up residence.

Harold was worried that Lucy wouldn’t like the cat. I introduced them by letting them touch noses, and they had many staring contests. The cat stayed on the front porch, and Lucy was queen of the deck.

Cats being curious, Neptune eventually approached the deck. At first, the dog barked and Neptune backed away. That didn’t last long. Soon Neptune was darting in front of Lucy and scooting behind the grill.

“The cat shouldn’t be on the deck,” Harold said as he shooed Neptune away. A few minutes later, the cat slid through the rail to venture on the deck again.

After a few weeks, Lucy quit barking at the cat and they declared a truce. The cat took over Lucy’s bed, and Lucy would lay beside it and nose Neptune. Sometimes they got a little rowdy, but neither seemed to be scared of the other.

While I was gone to the Alzheimer’s Forum, Harold said, “The cat is going to have to go. They mock fight and one of them is going to get hurt.” I don’t believe he was worried so much about Lucy hurting Neptune as he was about Neptune scratching Lucy.

By the time I got home, he had to show me how they acted. When he took Lucy for a walk in the backyard, the cat went down the steps side-by-side with the dog. Then, the cat ran up a tree, only to sidle down and launch a sneak attack.

All was quiet when we were inside. On the surveillance camera, we saw them laying together on the same chair while four other chairs remained unoccupied. Now, Lucy prances about each morning anxious to go onto the deck to play with her unlikely friend.
It seems that throughout life, we all have unlikely friends. At the Forum each year, I look forward to spending quality time with my two friends, Kathy Siggins and Sarah Harris. It’s an unlikely friendship when you consider that Sarah lives in Virginia, Kathy in Maryland, and I live in Missouri. Our friendship is never diminished from spending time away and when we meet at the Forum, we haven’t missed a beat. The Forum is like a special homecoming of the heart.

We all lost our husbands to an Alzheimer’s type of dementia. We met at the Forum and had an immediate connection. Now, it would be hard to imagine my life without them.

These serendipitous friendships are promises that nothing is really random. No matter what happens, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet and fulfill the purpose we were born to accomplish.

“If it hadn’t been for Alzheimer’s,” Sarah said, “we would have never met.” This is an undeniable truth. Our adversities defined our strengths and shaped our souls allowing us to embrace our unlikely friendship.

Copyright © April 2015 by L.S. Fisher

Monday, March 30, 2015

Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum 2015

I joined 1,100 other focused and dedicated advocates in Washington, D.C., to take our message to Capitol Hill. As always a highlight for me is to meet my long-term (fifteen years!) friends, and sisters of the heart, Sarah Harris and Kathy Siggins. This is the one time each year we get together, talking non-stop until we get caught up. Once we enter the forum, we’re focused on the message.  

As an ambassador, my first training session began immediately following lunch on Monday. The program began with an exercise. Everyone was asked to shout his or her name. Of course, the result was a loud, indecipherable noise. Yet when everyone whispered in unison “Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America,” it was easily understood. This demonstrated the impact of everyone being on the same page and delivering the same message.

Our mission was for Alzheimer’s advocates to deliver our federal priorities to our senators and representatives.  

1.                  Increase the commitment to Alzheimer’s research by $300 million. The current level of investment is $586 million. Even with the increase, this amount is far short of the $2 billion annual estimate to implement the steps toward meeting the goal of a cure or effective treatment as set forth by the National Alzheimer’s Plan.
2.                  Co-sponsor the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act. During the Forum, the Act was re-introduced with a focus on care planning and documentation of medical records. This act is consistent with the National Alzheimer’s Plan
The cost of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s is a staggering $226 billion. One in every five Medicare dollars are spent on people with Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers will only continue to increase as the baby boomers age. By 2050, the cost of Alzheimer’s care is expected to reach $1.1 trillion per year. The only way to avoid this pending economic crisis is to find an effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Research today is exciting and we seem to be on the cusp of finding the key to unlock the elusive cure for Alzheimer’s. New studies have shown great promise. New technology allows scientist to see beta amyloid plaques and tau tangles in living brains. Now, the effectiveness of treatments can be measured through this imaging.

A breakout session on social media showed us how to use tools provided by the Association to share highlights of the session via social media—Twitter and Facebook. We participated in a “Thunderclap” that released hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts as we began our Hill visits. The Association also re-tweeted any tweets containing #ALZFORUM or #ENDALZ. During the National Alzheimer’s Dinner, tweets were displayed on the screens, including several of mine.

All fifty states were represented during the roll call of the states. The most poignant moment during the roll call was an advocate accompanied by his wife who had Alzheimer’s. My heart went out to both of them.

Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General presented the keynote. He focused on leadership and teamwork. He said, “everyone teaches and everyone learns.” Dr. Satcher  said, “Leadership is like a relay race.” It doesn’t just depend on how fast you run, but whether you have the baton at the finish line. “If you drop the baton, the race is over.” He read a poem his wife, Nola, had written for their wedding reception, “I’ve Never Been Here Before.” Nola was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s fifteen years ago giving a new meaning to the poem.   

Periodically, throughout the meeting, advocates and people with dementia would tell why they were advocates. The most delightful person to speak was Amy Shives. She said she was diagnosed at fifty, as was her mother, with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type—atypical. She never considered herself to be typical anyway. She said that people with Alzheimer’s did not like to be called “sufferers” because they are people, not the disease. “If you’ve met one person with Alzheimer’s; you’ve met one person with Alzheimer’s.” Amy said that now she could wear her new shoes even if it didn’t match her dress. Her first dog, Chester, alerts her when she is going to have seizures. She freely admitted that her cat doesn’t care. Her husband, George, is her care partner and she loves him more than ever. Amy is being considered for an appointment to next year’s Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors.
Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, received the Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award. Lisa was at the 2008 Alzheimer’s Forum speaking to an early stage group and selling her self-published book. I bought a book from Lisa during that long-ago Forum prepared to be disappointed. Boy, was I ever wrong! I was so impressed by Still Alice that when a student I was mentoring wanted to know what book to review, I recommended Still Alice. The book was later published by Simon & Schuster and spent 40 weeks on the New York Times best seller list and sold 2.1 million copies in 30 different languages. The movie, starring Julianne Moore, has followed a circuitous route to become an acclaimed movie co-produced by  Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns, chair of the Judy Fund, who read the book in one night.

On Wednesday, we stormed Capitol Hill. Jessie Kwatamdia, Marcia Rauwerdink, and I along with other advocates visited Senator Blunt and Claire McCaskill’s offices. We three then visited with Congresswoman Hartzler, where we received a warm reception. After our visits, Jessie and I attended the Senate Hearing on the Fight Against Alzheimer’s, Senator Susan Collins, chair, and  Claire McCaskill, ranking member. Among those testifying was Missouri advocate Kim Stemley. Kim, a young caregiver for her mother, gave a powerful, on-point testimony.   

The influence of 1,100 dedicated advocates, wearing purple sashes, each delivering the same message, punctuated with personal stories, leaves a lasting impression on our legislators. Collectively, we are influential, but we are unstoppable as individuals who advocate throughout the year.

I am thankful to once again be part of this group and look forward to returning for my sixteenth Advocacy Forum April 4 – 6, 2016, to make sure our voices are not forgotten. 

Copyright © March 2015 by L.S. Fisher


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Into Action at the Alzheimer’s Forum

Spring is finally here and I’m packing for my fifteenth annual trip to Washington, D.C. It’s that time of year again when Alzheimer’s advocates converge on Capitol Hill to deliver our message to Congress.

For the first time in several years, I’ll be making the trip alone. My good friends Kathy and Sarah will be spending one night with me. We’ve never done that before and I can just imagine it will be a blast with not much sleeping going on.

With the way my flights are, my free time is broken up into smaller chunks so I’m not sure how many of the wonderful historic sites I’ll get to visit this time. Our hotel is in the Woodley Park area so we’re quite a distance from the Smithsonian’s other than the Zoo. Of course, an entrance to the metro is just a short distance away so I imagine that will be my direct route to the monuments and museums.

Of course, I’m not there to be a tourist. I’m there to take on the serious business of advocating for Alzheimer’s funding. Research news is really exciting right now.

Alzheimer’s is a global problem and researchers are working worldwide to find a cure. A new study from Australia has shown reversal of Alzheimer’s in animal models. Scientist used focused therapeutic ultrasound to beam noninvasive sound waves into the brain. This therapy worked on 75 percent of the mice, restoring memory, but not damaging surrounding tissue. That sounds totally awesome!

At least it’s awesome for the mice, but folks, it makes you wonder how long it will be before it becomes available for our loved ones. This therapy is slotted to be tried on “higher” animal models, such as sheep. Human trials could be underway as soon as 2017. These trials may start small, and perhaps in Australia.

It’s not surprising that this news comes from Australia. In 2004, they were the first country to adopt a national Alzheimer’s plan. USA adopted a plan in 2012.

Scientists are exploring several avenues now that show good results in mice ranging from a special diet to drugs that restore the immune system to normal so it can rid the brain of beta-amyloid plaque.

Research is costly which brings me back to the reason to go to D.C. Our country is hard hit with Alzheimer’s disease which happens to be the most costly disease in America. Yet, we spend only 1% of the cost of the disease on research. We need to increase the investment in Alzheimer’s research to meet our goal of a cure or effective treatment by 2025.

So my bag is packed and I leave early, early in the morning to make my flight. This time tomorrow, I’ll be in D.C. preparing for a whirlwind of preparation for our Hill visits on Wednesday. We will spring into action and shout from the Hill: We want to End Alzheimer’s Now.

Copyright © March 2015 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, March 13, 2015

Alzheimer's Everywhere I go

Last weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at the Business Women of Missouri legislative conference on Alzheimer’s legislation. A women’s group is an ideal audience for a topic of Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of those stricken with the disease are women. In addition, women are two times more likely to be the caregiver for a loved one with the disease. Spouses and daughters make up the majority of the female care partners, but in younger onset, a mother may be a caregiver. In Jim’s case, his mom took care of him while I worked. Her failing health and the progression of the disease left me scrambling for other relatives and professional caregivers. Bless my mom, sister, sons, and in-laws for being the village that helped me keep him at home longer.

It seems that everywhere I go, I run into others who know the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s. Folks tend to share their experiences with me. Or concerns. Often, I see the concern when the horrible suspicion takes hold that something is terribly wrong with a loved one. From my experience, I completely understand the urgency of wanting to find out what is wrong, and the fear that the doctor will say, “dementia” or “dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.”

First before panic sets in, take your loved one for a complete medical and psychological workup. I believe that nothing would have been more devastating to me than to find out, too late, that something could have been done to help Jim, and we hadn’t started proper treatment. Some treatable conditions can mimic Alzheimer’s.

Also, psychological testing can measure the level of cognition. I was stunned to learn that Jim had dementia after a battery of psychological testing. Simple things baffled him: he couldn’t count backwards from ten; he couldn’t come up with any words that started with the letter a; and he couldn’t perform simple math. Abstract thinking was beyond his capabilities.

Jim’s follow-up MRI detected brain shrinkage. We ran out of other reasons for his problems.

Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease. It sabotages lives and steals the future. It predictably moves throughout the brain, relentlessly destroying brain cells.

Caregivers can become frustrated when they hear the same question or phrase, repeatedly. They can become annoyed with repetitive behavior. Jim folded paper towels, dozens of them, and stuffed them into his pockets. He paced. And paced. And paced right out the door and down the road.

“It’s just the disease,” I told myself. I told others the same thing when they couldn’t understand why Jim did some of the things he did. Knowing it’s the disease, does help.

“If Jim had a broken leg, would people expect him to walk?” my mom reasoned. “Well, he has a broken brain and no one can expect him to do the things he used to do.”

When Jim was in the early stages of the disease, I think some people believed I was the problem. I saw little things, subtle changes that it took another year for others to see.
Now I see others beginning that journey, hoping it isn’t Alzheimer’s. Noticing those differences that may not be obvious to anyone else.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, my uncle doesn’t have Alzheimer’s! He can remember everything that happened when he was a boy.”

Yes. We grasp at straws and hang onto denial for as long as possible. If he can’t remember where the bathroom is in his own house, or drives to town and can’t find his way home, or forgets his children’s names, it’s time to drop the denial and investigate.

We fear nothing as much as the unknown. And everywhere I go, I find people who begin to have that nagging doubt that gnaws at the pit of their stomachs, that someone they love is developing dementia. My heart aches for each of them. My prayers plead for them to be strong, because strong is the only choice if their fears become the ugly reality of Alzheimer’s.

My hugs convey my hope that until science ends Alzheimer’s they will make the most of the time they’ve been given. My dream is that someday, everywhere I go, I won’t know anybody with Alzheimer’s.

Copyright © March 2015 by L.S. Fisher


Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Box of Memories

Last week I opened a box of photos and found a hodgepodge of  memories packed inside. I had stashed a lot of miscellaneous photos in this box and the memories spanned decades—many decades.

I started sorting the loose photos into labeled envelopes with hopes that eventually I could find a specific photo when I wanted. I began the task of labeling photos and trying to date them. Some were still in the envelopes from the various places where I had them developed. Although I didn’t take the time to label the photos, I often put the place and year on the outside. As I shuffled through them, I was reminded of happy times, family reunions, vacations, get-togethers.

Not only did I open a box of photos, I was searching for a photo for an Alzheimer’s presentation I’m giving this weekend and found myself sifting through thousands of photos on my computer. I was amazed at how many of the digital photos I didn’t remember taking.

I’ve finally started organizing my digital photos by putting them in folders by subject and by year. It does make it easier to find that one photo I’m looking for to jog a memory, savor a moment, or for a brief wallow in nostalgia.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered how important it is to have these mementos. Too many people are gone before we’re ready. Too often family moves across country and our paths won’t cross for years or decades at a time. Or maybe we won’t meet again on this side of heaven.

Rare old photographs are meant to be enjoyed and shared. Poor families have fewer photos than wealthier ones. You not only had to buy a camera, you had to purchase film, and then pay to have them developed. Sometimes the process took months if you hadn’t taken the entire roll of film. Or, you’d put it aside and forgot to have the photos developed. When that happened they often had a strange cast to them. It seemed like in every group photo at least one person was looking away, talking, or had her eyes shut.

I know that my mother-in-law lost a lot of her family photos in a fire. Those irreplaceable images are gone forever.

What a different world it was then. My hairdresser and I were talking about the numerous “selfies” people take today. She was wondering why her daughter had to have so many pictures of herself.

Well, let’s face it. The younger you are, the better the photos turn out. At my age, I prefer to have my hair fixed and my makeup on. It doesn’t help to be dressed in something that doesn’t make me look like a baby elephant. It’s hard to look trim in photos when you aren’t in real life. But let’s face it—there’s good photos and not so good ones.

This morning when I was organizing some of my digital photos I saw one Harold took of me with my new camera. I didn’t have a speck of makeup on and in high quality digital you can see every flaw on my face. I almost deleted it, then decided what the heck, it wouldn’t look bad at all with a little Photoshop magic.

It is so easy to scan or take a photograph and share within seconds on Facebook. As I’ve uncovered some of the treasures in the box of pictures, my first thought was to share them with family members. I love looking at old photos others share on “Throwback Thursday.” The photos make me smile—sometimes through tears—but a big smile, just the same.

I’m so glad that I have thousands of digital and prints of people, places, and memories. Photos are slices of life. Moments frozen in time.

Copyright © March 2015 by L.S. Fisher

Monday, February 23, 2015

Memory Day Common Sense Proposals

Rep. Dean Dohrman, Linda Fisher, Ginger Dollinger
On a cold February morning, Ginger and I joined other Missouri advocates for Memory Day at the state Capitol. With the temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero, we made the trek from the parking garage to the Capitol building basement. That was a great place to enter the building since the cafeteria was close by and a hot cup of coffee helped take off the chill.

I found my cousin, Karen, and her lobbying partner at what they called their “office.” This was a perfect area to see everyone that entered the building. Ginger and I joined them and while we enjoyed our coffee, we received our first lucky break of the day. My cousin had a place for us to leave our coats. How great to not have to lug them around.

“Usually when we get here,” I told her, “we have this big discussion as to whether it’s cold enough that we have to wear our coats. That wasn’t an option this morning.”

Soon, the Alzheimer’s group passed by, and we discovered that we were now meeting in Hearing
Ginger Dollinger
Room #2, instead of #3. We would meet to receive our appointment schedules, leave behind packets, instructions, and don our purple sashes. Our Springfield group was unable to come because of ice, so our group was smaller than usual.

The Memory Day ceremony had been moved to 2:00 p.m., so for the first time, we had lunch first. Better yet, we weren’t rushed!

Another first: Ginger and I had different representatives. Since I’ve moved a few miles down the road, that puts me in a different district.

We had two important issues to discuss with our legislators.

Alzheimer’s Grants. We have been fortunate to received Alzheimer’s service grants for many years. This year we asked for $450,000 to be budgeted for grants that provide respite care for Missourians with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. This grant has the potential to save the state millions each year. How is that possible? Respite often helps caregivers keep loved ones at home longer. Eight hundred families receive respite from this grant. Nursing home care costs Medicaid (paid by the state) an average of $147 per day. When you consider that 60% of nursing home residents are on Medicate, if respite delays nursing home placement by one month (30 days) the state would save $2,116,800. The savings alone makes sense! I delayed nursing home placement by several months with in-home care partially paid with respite funds. It is impossible to place a value on how much that time meant to us.

Senior Savings Protection Act (SB 244/HB 636). We all know how on our toes we have to be to avoid being scammed. People with dementia are even more vulnerable to being exploited. This bill would allow financial industry professionals to reach out to state agencies and family members if they suspect senior clients are being exploited and to refuse disbursements up to ten days. Folks, this is so necessary! Jim had me to run interference for him when telemarketers and others tried to take advantage of him. Not everyone has a person who can keep track of all the unscrupulous shysters out there that would love nothing better than to tap someone’s bank account.

Linda, Ginger, and Rep. Dave Muntzel
Our first scheduled visit was to see Ginger’s representative, Rep. Dave Muntzel, who until August had been mine. After our visit with him, we went directly to visit Rep. Dean Dohrman, my representative. Both representatives seemed to understand the value of both respite funds and the senior protection bill.

After these visits, we split up. Ginger went to the ceremony, and I accompanied an advocate who was meeting with his representative. As soon as our meeting ended, we walked to the second floor rotunda area where Lt. Governor Peter Kinder was talking about Alzheimer’s impact on families and government. Advocates held flowers representing their connection to the disease. The program ended with a caregiver’s personal story.

I dropped off a packet for our senator and retrieved our coats. On the drive back to Sedalia, Ginger and I talked about the day, our impressions, our hopes and fears. It had been a tiring day, but productive.

Being an advocate means being a voice. Each of us can be a voice to help advance these important issues in Missouri. Face-to-face meetings make the most difference, but you can lend your support with a letter, phone call, or email. It just takes a moment, but approval of the $450,000 Alzheimer’s Grant could be a lifeline for someone you love and save the state millions at the same time. The Senior Savings Protection Act could help your grandparents or elderly parents keep their hard earned savings. Supporting these two issues are a win-win for Missouri residents and tax payers.

Copyright © February 2015 by L.S. Fisher

Friday, February 13, 2015

Alzheimer’s: The Triple Threat

Alzheimer’s disease is a looming threat to each of us and to our government. In fact, it is a triple threat.

Threat #1: Soaring prevalence. Every 67 seconds a person in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. More than five million Americans currently are living with Alzheimer’s. As the baby boomers age the prevalence of Alzheimer’s will skyrocket. Left unchecked, we could be looking at 16 million people with the disease by 2050. Don’t know about you, but that darn near scares the bejesus out of me.

Threat #2: Lack of Treatment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the only disease in the top ten without an effective treatment or a cure. We seem to be headed in the right direction with the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act which means the research budget is scientist driven. The goal is to move toward the National Alzheimer’s Plan with its goal of finding an effective treatment or a cure by 2025. Some recent studies are promising!

Threat #3: Enormous Costs. Alzheimer’s has a reputation for being the most expensive disease for a reason. It is! The cost to Medicaid is $37 billion and Medicare is $113 billion, or one in five Medicare dollars. I can’t quite wrap my mind around those staggering numbers. Families provide an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care. In 2014, the out of pocket expense to American families to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s is estimated to be $36 billion. Additional costs hit family budgets hard. Even with health insurance and a division of assets that meant Medicaid picked up part of Jim’s nursing home, the disease drained our resources. Jim’s Veteran’s check and social security check went to the nursing home. I bought a lot of extras for him, much more than the $25 a month allowance from his checks.

When faced with a threat, humans have an instinct of either “flight” or “fight.” Which do you have? If you fall into the “flight” camp, you just ignore the disease and figure that it isn’t going to happen to you or someone you love. You don’t bother to do anything about it. Maybe not because you don’t care, but you just don’t have time, or money, or motivation.

If you are like me you plan to “fight” with all you have. You walk the walk and talk the talk. You participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s, or at least support someone who does, and you become an advocate. You spread the word, email a legislator from time to time. You become a Voice for Alzheimer’s.

Last night during the “Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease” call they mentioned three ways to help us move the Alzheimer’s mission forward. They called them the three “F’s.”

First, we need Fighters! These are the Champions who visit, email, call, and generally pester their legislators about Alzheimer’s legislation. They are ambassadors, board members, and volunteers who faithfully give their time and resources.

Second, we need Faces. A personal story, a picture, or a person in front of a legislator takes the abstract and makes it a reality! Whether you are visiting your state or U.S. legislators, the most important thing you can bring as an advocate is your story to make it personal and real. You need to condense the story to keep it on point and brief, but tell it from the heart.

The third part is to share the Facts. The facts are scary! The facts are sobering. You don’t have to memorize the facts, but you need to share them. The best way to lay out the facts is to verbalize a few key facts and leave a handout behind with the details.

We have our work cut out for us if we intend to neutralize the triple threat of Alzheimer’s and change the trajectory of the disease. I hope you choose to join the fight.

Copyright © February 2015 by L.S. Fisher