Today we recognize the enormous impact that Alzheimer’s disease has on people around the world. From the economic impact to the valuable time people seek to preserve with their loved ones, we see the disease as a true global health challenge.
But it wasn’t always that way, and this change was due in no small part to the tireless work of Former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
With her passing earlier this week, the world lost a strong advocate for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Nancy Reagan’s public advocacy journey began on November 5, 1994, when former President Ronald Reagan shared with the world that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The announcement marked a significant pivot point in public discourse surrounding the disease.
Dr. Maria Carrillo, Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association explained that this was “A really big moment. It translated into the beginning of an increased awareness and funding for research.” Until his death in 2004, Nancy Reagan stood by her husband’s side as his primary caregiver, and also became a leading voice in the fight against the disease.
Thanks to Nancy Reagan, a lot has changed in the past 22 years, but more work remains. With her passing, we will not lose the light of optimism, and instead will carry on the torch she lit to help shine a light on the resources and research needed to continue to fight Alzheimer’s disease.