By Lauren Kovach
This is my 10th year volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association. You may have heard my name before. You may not know me well, but you most likely know I love all things purple. And that it is my mission in life to help destroy this brutal, unforgiving disease.
There’s so much going on in the world today, especially within our political culture.
Understandably, people have very strong opinions, and with the rise of social media, they certainly are not afraid to express them. However, there’s one common thread that really has stood out to me recently: dementia jokes.
“It’s OK, Biden won’t remember this tomorrow.”
“This, coming from someone who supports dementia Trump?!”
Look, life is tough, I know how to laugh my way through it, and I’m all for a good joke. But there’s nothing funny about watching your best friend suffocate in the middle of the night because her brain forgot to tell her how to breathe. Or watching her panic because she’s lost inside her own head and fearful of being in her own home, which she doesn’t know she’s lived in for over 50 years. Or watching my Mom spend every single night, for 15 years, never leaving her side and taking care of her every moment of every day because help was not available to us.
Imagine having to watch someone slowly die, slowly forget, slowly decline, and there wasn’t a thing you could do to stop it. Imagine having to mourn the most important person in your life, while she’s sitting right next to you. Imagine the day that that person could no longer remember your name …
The Alzheimer’s Association released their annual facts and figures report today: Heart disease related deaths are down by 8 percent. Stroke related deaths down by percent. HIV related deaths down by percent.
Alzheimer’s-related deaths are UP by 146 percent.
I use this analogy often: Would you comment on a post that showed a bald woman wearing a pink head scarf and make a breast cancer joke? No, because it’s not funny.
Would you comment on a post with a man in a wheelchair who has slurred speech and make an ALS joke? Absolutely not. Not funny either.
So I’m not sure at what point as a society we thought it became OK to make dementia and Alzheimer’s jokes. I’m not sure at what point we found it funny to make fun of people living with a fatal disease with no cure.
Oh, and “I forgot” to mention that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America.
So if you really are that concerned that your president or potential future president has dementia, I encourage you to put your money where your mouth is and make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association every time you make a dementia joke.
We could probably cure the damn disease if you did. #EndAlz
Lauren Kovach of Brighton is an Alzheimer’s Ambassador.