Patient with Alzheimer’s disease
A patient with Alzheimer’s disease. Courtesy Centers for Disease Control

Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the costliest medical conditions in the U.S. due to the need for long-term care for those stricken, yet the dollars devoted to research for a cure are far short of what’s needed. As our population ages and life expectancy reaches new records, more of us are affected by the disease in one way or another, either as a person with dementia, or caregiver or loved one concerned with the well-being of someone afflicted.

Currently 690,000 Californians age 65 and over are living with Alzheimer’s, with more than 1.6 million unpaid caregivers providing $24 trillion’ worth of unpaid care.

The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.

To help the Association reach its goals, volunteers and donors provide support with time and money. Volunteer-led classes and support groups augment those offered by a staff of professionals dedicated to achieving its vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

As spring turns into summer on the longest day of the year, San Diegans and caring individuals across the country are helping support the Alzheimer’s Association mission by creating individual fundraisers based on their own hobbies and interests. From simply throwing a party at a local bar or restaurant to engaging friends in rock climbing, hikes or other activities, millions of dollars have been raised.

Last year, San Marcos resident Scott Patterson, a financial advisor at Edward Jones, turned his love for comic book superheroes into an eight-hour party and backyard barbeque with a silent auction of comic book memorabilia and luxury items including golf foursomes, signed baseballs and even a week’s stay at a Maui condominium.

“All of us are heroes in some shape or form,” says Patterson. “Through social services we help people get better. Alzheimer’s does the opposite. It destroys, and is therefore the villain.”

Funds raised benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s Disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

If you have an idea for an activity you can turn into your own personal fundraiser to help those with Alzheimer’s, go the Alzheimer’s Association web site at www.alz.org/TLD and joint the fight. Or contact North County’s local chapter by writing Sarah Granby at sgranby@alz.org.

Be the superhero Patterson says we all have inside us and join the hundreds of North County residents who will take part in the fight against the villainous Alzheimer’s disease.

Douglas Friedman is the director of communications for the Alzheimer’s Association’s San Diego/Imperial Chapter.