I'm a thief of mind and spirit. I capture your mind by breaking down memories. I am a thief, who detaches you from the familiar, leaving you lifeless. I am a plagiarizer who destroys your identity -- preventing you from discerning your comb from your car keys. I make you question if you ate breakfast and nullify your judgment.
There are no survivors to walk for my disease, no survivors pleading to Congress to fund research. I attack more than 1,200 people daily. My caregivers are six times more likely to develop it themselves. The government funds my disease at 1 percent that of AIDS, yet I kill five times as many people. Sandra Day O'Connor said it best in The New York Times:
"Our government is ignoring what is likely to become the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer's disease, an illness that is 100 percent incurable, and 100 percent fatal. It attacks rich and poor, white collar and blue, and women and men, without regard to party. A degenerative disease, it steadily robs its victims of memory, judgment and dignity, leaves them unable to care for themselves and destroys their brain and their identity -- often depleting their caregivers and families emotionally and financially."
You can't disregard me. I will bankrupt health care if a cure is not found.
I am Alzheimer's disease.
November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Reach out and make a difference -- volunteer, advocate, donate! Contact the Augusta Office at (706) 731-9060, or visit www.alz.org/georgia.
Dee Dee Kurilla
(The writer is director of the Alzheimer's Association, Augusta Region.)