The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 11, 2013

Your View: The disease that destroys

By Harry Redding
Special to The Globe

VERONA, Mo. — For years, millions of people in our country have had to stand by and watch as our loved ones are stolen from us by Alzheimer’s disease. Let us stand up and take action to get more research funding for our fellow Americans that have this devastating disease. It affects younger generations as well as older people.

My family has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for three generations. My paternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s in her 70s. My dad and his three siblings were all diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s. After three years of testing, I was diagnosed in 2011 at age 49 with early-onset Alzheimer’s. I could no longer continue to work, putting great financial stress on my family. My wife is my caregiver, and she stays at home with me 24/7, also not being able to hold a job.

This disease slowly destroys all memory and body functions and eventually kills you. Your family has to sit and watch as you no longer know them and you fade away. Friends and family sometimes stop coming around, making it hard for the caregiver who is trying to keep their loved one at home.

My wife and I have been to the state Capitol twice to raise awareness and speak out for those with this disease. This month we will be going to Washington, D.C., to ask our government to make Alzheimer’s a national priority. Great strides in treatments for diseases such as HIV, polio and cancer have been made due to funding being provided for research. Alzheimer’s has no cure, treatment or prevention and is the No. 6 cause of death in America. There are currently over 110,000 Missourians who have Alzheimer’s, and 70 percent of them receive care at home.

Let’s contact our government to ask them to support making Alzheimer’s disease a national priority. The end of Alzheimer’s starts with you and me.

Let’s do our part.

Harry Redding