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Behind the Camera:
Celebrity Battles with Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s is known to be a relentless disease, it destroys memory and ransacks other mental capacities. Essentially, 70% of the cases of dementia will eventually end as Alzheimer’s disease, and one of its early side effects are momentary memory loss.

As the disease progresses, an Alzheimer’s patient would begin to exhibit problems talking, remembering names and words and bouts of confusion. With the speed at which the disease progresses, the afflicted individual’s condition would continue to deteriorate, and may even lead to death.

Currently, there is no treatment to stop Alzheimer’s from progressing once it’s been diagnosed. Some of the current treatments and medications now available help to improve the symptoms but only for a short period of time and do not give long term benefits.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s often turn to paid caretakers for assistance because they worry that they’ll become a burden to their families. The disease has a tremendous negative impact on an individual’s physical and psychological health.
Alzheimer’s disease does not discriminate and even celebrities have battled the deadly disease.

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The world was shocked when former United States president Ronald Reagan announced in an open letter that he was one of the millions of people around the world suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Some celebrities live with the disease while others have family members that have been diagnosed with it.

These Hollywood celebrities uses their voice and popularity to spread awareness, inform the public and dispel taboos and misconceptions about the Alzheimer’s disease.

Famous musicians Malcolm Young and Glenn Campbell are two of the rich and famous who were diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s but still went on with their musical careers and lived their lives the best that they could.

Big names in the Hollywood world like Rita Hayworth, Charles Bronson and Charlton Heston are also celebrities that died because of Alzheimer’s. But the list goes on and does not end here.Presently, there are celebrities battling the disease personally or through a family member.

Here are some of the rich and famous people Hollywood celebrities whose lives have been greatly impacted because of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Samuel L. Jackson – Grandfather, Uncle, Aunt and Mother died from Alzheimer’s disease.

Famous Hollywood A-lister, Samuel L. Jackson has seen firsthand how deadly the disease is as he has had an excruciating experience with it when members of his family (grandfather, aunt, uncle, mother) died from Alzheimer’s. Because of this, he knows he’s at risk of one day being diagnosed with it too.

“My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, my maternal and paternal grandmothers had it, my mom died from it last year, her sister’s got it. Because it’s around me like that, I’m kind of waiting on that day where I walk in a room and don’t know why I’m there… I’m going to do all I can to help people because of that.”

He says this is the reason why he supports fundraising events in search for a cure and raises awareness for Alzheimer’s however he can. He added “I read, I do crossword puzzles, I memorize lines for a living… Maybe that’s why I continue to work — because I want to exercise my mind.”

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Victor Garber – Lost his parents to Alzheimer’s disease.

Hollywood actor, Victor Garber lost both his mother and father to Alzheimer’s. His father was diagnosed with the disease when living in London, Ontario where Victor’s brother became his primary caregiver.

His mother on the other hand, lived with him in Los Angeles when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s which made him a very involved, hands-on caregiver. He stated that it had been very difficult for him to do this.

He recalled, “You basically have to give up your life, and that’s difficult for so many reasons. Alzheimer’s rips people apart and, in some ways, is as difficult for the primary caregiver as it is the person going through it.”

When Victor’s parents died, he became a vocal advocate of Alzheimer’s research.

Joey McIntyre – Lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease

New Kids on the Block member and co-star of the sitcom “The McCarthys”, Joey McIntyre lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease. It was hard for him to see his mother battle and suffer from the disease saying, “It’s difficult to accept watching your parent suffer from this kind of a disease.”

He recalls that during his mother’s early onset of Alzheimer’s, “She would get frightened and paranoid… I had never seen my mother like that.”

In 2013, he was able to raise approximately $40,000 when he participated in the Boston marathon.

Because of his advocacy of Alzheimer’s research, he was honored as “Caregiver of the Year” at the 23rd annual “A Night at Sardi’s” fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association.

During his acceptance speech he told attendees, “I’m here to do whatever I can to find a cure for this disease… I look forward to a day without Alzheimer’s.”

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Keith Carradine – His Father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during his 50’s

Hollywood actor and co-star of “Madam Secretary” Keith Carradine shares his story of how he became primary caregiver to his Father-In-Law. His Father-In-Law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while in his late 50’s, which is considered a young age for a diagnosis.

Keith recalls, “There was about a year or two years before where there were some anomalies – changes in his behavior and emotional state and personality changes – that we talked up to aging, quirkiness, getting older, getting mellower, until we all realized and tests were done and we found that it was confirmed.” , Adding, “He still knows us, but his language has, obviously, severely diminished.”

After the diagnosis he and his wife, Hayley DuMond, brought his Father-in-Law into their own home so that he could be well taken care of.

Carradine also received the “Caregiver of the Year” award at the 23rd annual “A Night at Sardi’s” fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association thanks to the love, care, and support he showed his Father-in-Law.

In his acceptance speech Keith said, “The family members who witness and go through it with them – I mean, it’s really a scourge and we have to pour as many resources as we can muster into finding a cure for this illness.”

 

Chef Madison Cowan – Father was diagnosed with Dementia

Chef Madison Cowan is the famous chef to Hollywood stars and grand champion of Food Network’s cooking competition “Chopped.” He became an advocate of the Alzheimer’s Association when he found out that his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his father-in-law suffered from Dementia.

Cowan later said it was difficult connecting with his father emotionally and it became more difficult when his father developed the disease. “It’s my life’s mission to advance the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Cowan when speaking publicly about Alzheimer’s. Adding, “I’m here for same reasons you’re here. We’re all affected by this disease. We need to fight back.”

Cowan uses his master chef skills and fame to raise awareness of the disease and led him to creating a partnership between schools and chefs in promoting food education and a healthy eating to benefit the brain.

2 May 2017; Terrell Owens, NFL Footballer & Entrepreneur, at the Q&A Stage during Collision 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Diarmuid Greene / Collision / Sportsfile

Terrell Owens – Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

NFL superstar Terrell Owens was not spared by Alzheimer’s disease and has his own Alzheimer’s story when his grandmother was diagnosed in 1996.

Terrell Owens was raised by his grandmother and the year he was drafted by the NFL was also the year he found out his grandmother had Alzheimer’s.

Ever since his grandmother was diagnosed, Terrell has become an advocate and supporter of Alzheimer’s awareness.

In 2011, Terrell Owens hosted his first “Speakeasy Soiree” to benefit Alzheimer’s and has partnered with the National Alzheimer’s Association to raise money to fight the disease and raise awareness.

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