With Alzheimer’s numbers on the rise and this disease being one of the most expensive to research and maintain, it is important to take your place as an advocate for the cause. Whether you have a family member with Alzheimer’s or experience it personally, becoming an advocate is essential to supporting yourself and others. There are more than a few ways you can be an advocate for Alzheimer’s and they are not as difficult as you might think.
1. Tell Your Story
One of the easiest ways that you can get straight into advocacy for Alzheimer’s is to share your personal story. Even if you do not personally have Alzheimer’s there may be someone close to you in your life that does and this is your chance to share that story. You can educate others (who may not be aware of just how serious Alzheimer’s is) about every aspect of this disease and how they can get started on becoming advocates as well.
These days, there more than a few outlets available for you to tell your story and literally be able to share it with the world. Aside from local or nationwide TV stations and networks, you have:
- Social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Online Alzheimer’s support groups
- Your own personal blog
- Join local chapters and share
2. Get Your Elected Officials Up-To-Date
Sometimes, our elected officials just need a friendly reminder of what types of issues are current in our communities and in our nation. Being able to increase funding toward Alzheimer’s research is one of those reminders that every person can help with. You can use this form to help send a reminder to our congress men and women about the financial needs of Alzheimer’s research and testing.
If everyone joins together on sending this form, it would be a show of strength coming directly from the people who are either experiencing Alzheimer’s personally or have been affected by it. So many voices would be very difficult to ignore.
3. Join AIM (The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement)
The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement is already a very popular tool in the Alzheimer’s world. By joining the movement you can help give a push toward changing and updating laws that may hinder needed funds or testing for Alzheimer’s research and patients. Adding your voice can have a huge impact when you have a movement this large standing beside you and fighting the good fight with you.
AIM is allowed to have a voice in elections and discussions that regular Alzheimer’s organizations cannot. If there is a message that you want to put out there, AIM is the one to do it and make sure that your elected officials will hear your voice on the matter.
4. Sign Up for Updates About Alzheimer’s Information and Public Issues
For general information about Alzheimer’s (care, support, resources) and public issues, these are some of the best sign-up/daily-read spots:
- ID/AD (Identify Alzheimer’s Disease Early)
- Alzheimer’s Association E-News
- Public Health Information
- Alzheimer’s Association Blog on Public Issues
- WebMD Alzheimer’s Support
- How To Support Caregivers
- Caregiver Guide to Healthy Alzheimer’s Care
There are plenty of other websites that provide information and resources, but these are the main websites that will give you constantly updated information on what you need to know about Alzheimer’s.
5. Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Research
Fundraising is probably the best-known form of advocacy. The Alzheimer’s Association is one of the largest organizations that sponsor the very popular “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” They also have hundreds of local chapters that help communities do their part in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
What this means for you is that you have a chance to find plenty of fundraising opportunities for yourself and others. Some of these fundraiser types could be:
- Marathons (also have a raffle for everyone who participates in this event)
- Local Event Fairs (partner with local restaurants to help with your cause)
- Concerts (partner with local bands and help spread the word even faster)
- Art Exhibit (proceeds can go to supporting specific Alzheimer’s charities or trials)
- Selling T-Shirts (have a “design” challenge added in to bring in more people for the cause)
- Coupon Books (partner with local business and bring the entire community to your cause)
- Donation Jars (again, this gives you the chance to partner with local businesses)
- Yard Sale (all money earned can go toward your cause and pay for another fundraising event)
- Craft Fair (sell your own crafts and have other artists pay their way to sell their own crafts)
If you have the ability (and the time) you might even want to consider starting your own fundraiser. If your community does not already have one, it is the perfect chance to get your neighbors in on the event, raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, and raise much needed funds for research foundations.
6. Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Related Health Issues
Many people are not aware of the number of clinical trials that are available for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Some these same clinical trials are even open to individuals who do not have Alzheimer’s. Every person that volunteers for these trials will further research and help provide answers to the never-ending questions that surround the prevention, development and treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Most clinical trials will filter through certain criteria such as:
- A specific age range for each overall trial or certain phases of each trial
- Being in a particular stage of Alzheimer’s already (There are some that will only ask for volunteers who have already reached a specific stage)
- Having Alzheimer’s as the “only” health concern (This basically means that individuals who have other health conditions, that are a direct result of having Alzheimer’s, may not be considered for an “Alzheimer’s Only” trial, but can be placed on a volunteer list for “Alzheimer’s Related” clinical trials)
Regardless of whether or not you already have Alzheimer’s, there will always be a trial available. If one trial does not accept your volunteer application, do not be discouraged. There plenty of other trials out there that you can take part in and really make a difference in the world Alzheimer’s.
Click here to learn more about where clinical trials are available and how to sign up.
7. Support Alzheimer’s Caregivers
Remember that, while Alzheimer’s patients need support, their caregivers do as well. They are putting their own personal lives on hold to care for their loved ones and we should support them in all their efforts to do so.
It is a good idea to knowing the signs of a stressed-out caregiver:
- Irritated mood
- Bouts of anger
- Withdrawing from socializing
Even if these signs are not present, you can still help out a caregiver. Here are some simple ways that you can offer your support:
- Offer to help with daily household chores
- Offer to go grocery shopping
- Offer to do yard work
- Cook up some ready-made meals (casseroles are great and last for days)
- Offer to sit in with a patient (at least for a little bit of time) to allow the caregiver some personal time
- Call just to check in
- Send a "thinking of you" card
Caregivers may not be so quick to accept the help of others. This isn’t because they do not want your help. Many just have a hard time accepting help from others.
Don’t forget that the Alzheimer’s Association has a resource page for caregivers that can also help you in showing your support for them. Even the smallest gestures can mean a lot.
There are many (small and large) ways to be an advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness and research. Remember to:
- Share your story
- Pass your knowledge to your officials
- Use Alzheimer’s Impact Movement however you need to increase awareness
- Sign up to get updated news and resources about Alzheimer’s
- Fundraise as much as possible and get others to join in with you
- Take part in clinical trials
- Support Alzheimer’s caregivers
Advocacy for Alzheimer’s does not have to start as something huge. You can start small, on your own time, and even with the help of friends and family. From there, you can build your cause into something large or keep it small-scale. Either way, you are still helping with the push toward ending Alzheimer’s once and for all.