Today’s guest blog is from Phyllis Ferrell, Lilly’s Vice President, Global Alzheimer’s Disease Platform Team.
Earlier this month I wrote about the impact that Coach Pat Summitt had on my life personally through her powerhouse career on the court and in her advocacy to end Alzheimer’s. This week, I’m keeping Coach Summitt front and center when I join more than 5,000 researchers, investigators, clinicians and care providers from 70 countries in Toronto for the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). For nearly 30 years, AAIC has provided a space for the Alzheimer’s disease community to collaborate, share, and learn.
We know the numbers. I face them every day in my work. Alzheimer’s has its grasp on more than 5 million people in the United States. But that isn’t just a statistic. It’s my dad. It’s my father-in-law. It’s mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, and yes, because Alzheimer’s doesn’t discriminate based on age, it’s sometimes our sons and daughters.
Alzheimer’s reach goes beyond even patients, because more than 15 million of us are caregivers providing an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to loved ones. It’s a privilege people like my mother and sister attack with loving vigilance. But it takes a toll, both emotional and financial and we need solutions.
In order to change the trajectory of this disease, scientific breakthroughs, and legislative policies that support innovation and reduce barriers to discovery are imperative. Alzheimer’s is a formidable enemy, yet we've seen global collaboration make progress in solving many health and social issues. I’m confident we will beat this too. AAIC creates the perfect space to discuss how to approach these challenges.
Later this week I’ll be talking about the impact that two specific issues; the disproportionate impact that Alzheimer’s has on women, and the gap importance of earlier diagnosis.
In the meantime, visit alzreadinessproject.com to get informed about the growing impact of Alzheimer's disease and use #AAIC2016 on Twitter and Facebook to share your voice during this week’s conference.
We’re all in this together and it’s vital that those of us working on a solution hear from people like you who are living the stories that make up these frightening statistics.