Nearly everyone knows someone who’s been touched by Alzheimer’s, a devastating, progressive brain disease that destroys brain cells, causes memory loss and leads to other problems with thinking and behavior.
That’s because the disease impacts not just those living with Alzheimer’s — but also their caregivers, family members and friends.
As part of our long-standing social mission and commitment to making a difference in the places we live and work, we have been engaged in a year-long effort to support the Alzheimer’s Association and raise awareness about this deadly disease.
Across the U.S., nearly 6 million people live with Alzheimer’s, including 180,000 in Michigan alone. As the 6th leading cause of death in the nation, it kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
And those numbers are expected to accelerate.
Alzheimer’s is an illness that does not discriminate, has no cure and cannot be slowed. And while more women are faced with the disease, largely because women live longer on average, the primary risk factor is age.
At a recent informational session at our Detroit campus, we saw evidence of the disease’s pervasiveness: A manager in operations who was a caregiver for her mother-in-law; An analyst in facilities who was a caregiver to her grandmother; A procurement consultant who cared for his father; A director who cared for her mother for years before she passed away from Alzheimer’s.
Their stories, both heartbreaking and touching, underscored how impactful Alzheimer’s can be to those who are suffering, as well as their loved ones. They also demonstrated the need for even more support and additional efforts to find a cure.
I’m proud that our Blue Cross employees have rallied behind this initiative, taking part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s events across the state, increasing awareness through communications and events, raising donations, and shining a spotlight on The Longest Day on June 21, when people worldwide collectively pledge to have ‘light outshine the darkness of Alzheimer’s.’
Now, the race is on to find the cure. Together, let’s rally behind the Alzheimer’s Association and provide our support for the millions suffering because no one should face this alone.
Daniel J. Loepp will serve as honorary chairman for the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association’s Chocolate Jubilee fundraiser on Oct. 27. The Detroit towers at the Renaissance Center will be illuminated in purple on that day.
Photo credit: Enes Evren