Alzheimer’s disease, a brutal neurodegenerative disorder which gradually robs one’s memory, also comes with a number of misconceptions. Because of the stigma, getting the help they need is a real challenge for sufferers, and that fact is troubling. Imagine how many tragic cases could’ve been delayed—possibly for years—if people had just been informed.
How Alzheimer’s is Perceived
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many people with Alzheimer’s may experience withdrawal of family members and friends who do not understand their condition. These uninformed individuals think their loved one won’t be able to enjoy the rest of their life, will be prone to angry mood swings, and will immediately become unable to care for themselves.
These misconceptions can result in depression for people suffering from the disease and can rule out the possibility of early treatments.
Celebrities Harness The Power of the Media to Fight
Media is a strong communication tool for information for any number of causes and issues. And so, celebrities use its power to join the fight against Alzheimer’s stigma by sharing their personal battles with the disease. These acts help communicate the truth about Alzheimer’s and raise money for research.
Read the stories of these celebrities who shined a bright light on Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Victor Garber
Award-winning Canadian star Victor Garber has had a long career and appeared in everything from Hollywood to Broadway. As a prominent actor with relationships and contacts all over the entertainment industry, he took advantage of his opportunity to come forward and speak about the disease, after losing both of his parents to Alzheimer’s.
From that day on, he has been a champion advocate for Alzheimer’s caregivers, and regularly uses his own money to help fund Alzheimer’s research and encouraging his co-stars to join him.
“Alzheimer’s rips people apart and, in some ways, is as difficult for the primary caregiver as it is the person going through it,” Victor said in an interview.
2. Glen Campbell
Famous from his country music hits such as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell made an announcement in 2011 that shook the entire entertainment industry. Together with his family, Campbell came forward to speak about his battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
After his announcement, Campbell continued to perform and even embarked on a tour which was dubbed the Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour. It was Glen’s wish to bid adieu to his fans before completely leaving the music scene.
In an exclusive interview, Glen himself together with his family and producer Julian Raymond described how Alzheimer’s entirely re-arranged their personal lives and how they coped with it.
“Something was really wrong,” Glen’s wife Kim Campbell told Country Weekly. She recalled when a few years back Glen began exhibiting the early signs of dementia so he made an appointment with a neurologist and was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. At that time, they don’t know what to expect, but unfortunately, Glen’s dementia grew progressively worse.
Glen’s family stayed by his side until his passing in August 2017 becoming advocates of Alzheimer’s disease awareness.
3. Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen is a Canadian-American actor famous for his performances in movies such as “Pineapple Express”, “Knocked Up” and “The Neighbors”. People admire Rogen not only for his talents, but also for his passion and commitment to helping others, and especially for his work to reduce the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease.
In her 50’s, Rogen’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, a rare kind that affects younger adults. This situation prompted Rogen to take action. In partnership with his wife Lauren, they created Hilarity for Charity in 2012.
The mission of Rogen’s organization is to spread awareness and change Alzheimer’s perceptions among young people. Hilarity for Charity raises money to fund Alzheimer’s research and support the families of patients.
To date, they have already raised over $7-million.
4. Scott Conant
Well-known celebrity chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, Scott Conant judges cooking battle shows like “Chopped” on Food Network. But the renowned chef left a lasting legacy and shed light on Alzheimer’s when he won the $50,000 “Chopped-All Stars” grand prize because it benefited Keep Memory Alive, a dementia charity. Growing up, Conant witnessed his grandmother suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’m proud to align myself with such a great organization like Keep Memory Alive,” said Chef Conant. “And then on top of it, to be able to pull out the win and bring them a check for $50,000. It’s amazing when things all lineup. I feel really blessed.”
The organization funds research and clinical programs for various cognitive disorders.
Scott Conant also held a book signing event for The Scarpetta Cookbook, one of the books he wrote that benefited the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
5. Rick Steves
World traveler, author, and TV host Rick Steves lost his beloved mother to Alzheimer’s years ago. Since then he started campaigning on behalf of the patients, and the families and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients whenever he could. He believes that there’s a huge need for adult care services to provide quality care for Alzheimer’s patients to help improve their quality of life in their remaining years.
6. Maria Shriver
No other celebrity has poured more of their heart and time into advocating for Alzheimer’s awareness than Maria Shriver has. Not only did she put almost everything she had—fame, time, money, and influence—into her efforts, but she did it with a passion rarely seen.
Her efforts have made a worldwide impact. Proving that she’s more than a pretty face; she’s an advocate.
After receiving the news that her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Shriver got involved in a documentary produced by HBO called The Alzheimer’s Project. This documentary is the story of seven individuals living with Alzheimer’s.
She’s also written a book for children who need help dealing with a loved one who suffers from the disease. Maria has also stood in front of Congress to speak about the destructive effect of Alzheimer’s but it doesn’t end there. She founded and joined various organizations related to Alzheimer’s disease including the popular The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement that continues to help and support thousands of people to this day.
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