In an effort to take raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, disease, a Boston University student with a personal stake in the disease’s eradication will take part in the Greater Boston Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept. 29.
Bridget Moran, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said the Alzheimer’s Association sponsored the walk to raise awareness and funds for the education on and research of Alzheimer’s disease. She is participating to honor her grandmother and her father, both of whom fell victim to Alzheimer’s. Her father was just 54 years old when he died.
“It [Alzheimer’s] is only increasing in numbers, so I think people should know more about it,” Moran said. “I want people to know that Alzheimer’s affects young people too, because I think people just think it is something that just happens to their grandparents, and they don’t really know how common it is.”
Moran said she has been a member of the Alzheimer’s Association since 2009, when her father was diagnosed with the disease. She explained that despite her multiple attempts to reach out to Capitol Hill officials, she has yet to see much progress on the issue.
“I have done a lot to get the word out there,” Moran said. “I have written letters to Congress and have spoken to Senators from my home state, Minnesota. One of the Senators has actually called me, and I spoke with her, but nothing was resolved. She basically said that they know about my concern and they are working as hard as they can.”
Moran said she will address participants after the walk on Sept. 29 about how her family has been affected by Alzheimer’s. She said she has organized her own team for the walk, which consists of her mother and a few friends.
“This is just the start of my efforts … and I definitely plan on doing more walks,” Moran said. “I am doing this walk … to help find a cure so that other families don’t have to go through what my family did.”
Jesse Mez, a member of BU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said Moran’s father suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s, which affects a minority of patients with the disease.
“The genetics of Alzheimer’s is complex, meaning that a lot of genes contribute,” Mez, a professor of neurology. “That being said, it is still largely a genetic disease. In most cases, including early onset Alzheimer’s, there are a lot of genes that contribute to the onset of it [Alzheimer’s].
Mez said Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. People with the disease suffer progressive cognitive deficits, the most common of which is memory loss.
“With the cognitive deficits, over time come functional deficits, and things like getting to the store or taking care of finances become more difficult,” Mez said. “Probably the most important thing is to educate family members and the patients themselves, so that they have a better understanding of what is going on.”
James Wessler, president and CEO of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, stated in a press release that the funds generated from the Greater Boston Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be put towards critical research for the disease.
“Funds raised will provide care and support services to our families, friends and neighbors affected by Alzheimer’s,” Wessler said. “Local volunteers step up and work hard to make it a powerful experience for everyone.”
Alzheimer’s disease is currently the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. There are more than 5 million Americans currently living with the disease. The number of patients continues to increase.
Those who wish to participate in The Greater Boston Walk to End Alzheimer’s may begin between 8:30 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 29, according to the press release. Participants will walk between two and six miles along the Charles River.