Monday Lead Letter: Let's remain relentless in fighting Alzheimer's Disease


When I was a child, I was always taught to fight for the things I love — and that if I worked hard and let my heart guide me, the possibilities could be endless.

When dementia took my grandmother, my strength was tested and my family left irrevocably impacted. Life is precious.

Not long after that, my grandfather also succumbed to a similar diagnosis that was later confirmed as Alzheimer’s Disease.

My spirit was crumbling.

So I decided to pack my bags and leave my longtime home in Pennsylvania — and I never looked back.

I drove south until the palm trees stretched for miles, and to a place where sunscreen doubles as cologne.

Florida’s population is roughly 21 million and grows by over 1,100 a day.

Of this population, 522,000 Floridians are living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

It’s a number so substantial that it places Florida at Ground Zero of this looming national health crisis.

You see, Alzheimer’s Disease is not exclusive to my family.

The disease itself is currently impacting a total of 5.5 million Americans, a number that will surely increase with an aging population on the rise.

I didn’t know where to start.

Then for the first time in months, I discovered hope in the form of 6 letters: PCHETA (The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act).

Reintroduced in the 115th Congress and supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, PCHETA would ensure America has an adequate, well-trained palliative care workforce through workforce training, enhanced research and education and awareness.

I have been working to spread the word about it.

Recently, 15 members of Florida’s delegation in the U.S. Congress sealed their support for PCHETA in ink.

Among those supporters for PCHETA is U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, who has been a seasoned champion for fighting Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rutherford and the other co-sponsors of PCHETA — which now totals more than 250 bipartisan members of Congress — remind me I am never alone in fighting for a cure.

Alzheimer’s Disease knows no race, color, gender, religious beliefs or party affiliation.

It is relentless.

But so am I.

Evan Holler,

public policy coordinator,

Alzheimer’s Association,

Jacksonville



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