A Somber Reminder of the Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease

NPR listeners are mourning the death of Tom Magliozzi, one half of “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” on the wildly popular Car Talk show. Though Tom and his brother, Ray, retired in 2012, NPR has continued to air reruns on NPR member stations, and listeners remember Tom’s infectious laugh and his quick wit.

What some listeners may not have realized was that Tom had Alzheimer’sCar Talk executive producer Doug Berman wrote: “Please note that the Magliozzi family is asking that in lieu of flowers, friends and listeners make a donation to either the Alzheimer’s Association or their favorite public radio stations in Tom’s memory.” Tom passed away at the age of 77 as a result of complications from the disease.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a disease that attacks the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s facts and figures, more than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s, and someone in the country develops the disease every 67 seconds. The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for the deaths of approximately 500,000 people each year. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

November also is Family Caregivers Month. Currently, more than 15 million caregivers provide care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. In 2013, caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care worth more than $220 billion.

Several organizations and agencies provide support for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and their family members, especially during the month of November. To find programs and services in your area, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s My Community page. While most organizations offer more tips and events during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness/Family Caregiver Month to raise awareness and promote fundraising efforts, events and resources are available year-round for families touched by the disease.

  • The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research, takes place in communities nationwide throughout the year.
  • Comedian and actor Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller, host Hilarity for Charity, an annual event that raises awareness and funds and promotes the idea that people should no longer consider Alzheimer’s as an “old person’s” disease, but an epidemic people of all ages should fight.
  • The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers several events throughout the year to support family and professional caregivers, including teleconferences, ceremonies in recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and screening days.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that more than likely will touch all of our lives at some point. Sharing information about the resources and events that help support Alzheimer’s patients, their families, and caregivers is one way to honor National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness/Family Caregiver Month. Another is to raise awareness about and funds for researching and curing the disease. Or, make a donation to honor someone like Tom Magliozzi.

Image via Flickr by Andee Duncan

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