Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: World Alzheimer’s Day Seeks to Educate and Illuminate

World Alzheimer’s Day Seeks to Educate and Illuminate

Online Media Specialist

In honor of World Alzheimer's Day which falls in the middle of World Alzheimer's Month, I want to share with you the story of retired physician David Hilfiker. Specifically, I want to share his blog, called Watching the Lights Go Out, because it is one of the most unique memoirs you'll read. This collection of short entries is not your typical "day-in-the-life" kind of blog meant for Hilfiker to reminisce about his own life. You see, Watching the Lights Go Out is about Hilfiker's descent into Alzheimer's disease. Although he'd been experiencing symptoms for five years before his diagnosis, in September 2012, Hilfiker was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that would surely progress to Alzheimer's disease.

 

His firsthand account of a disease that leaves no physical traces is haunting. When I first heard about Hilfiker's blog, I couldn't imagine knowing that my mind was rebelling against me and that it would eventually go dark. I think, for me, my terror was best captured in the J.R.R. Tolkien quote,* (from the movie, not the book. Let's be real here, that thing was long):"I don't want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse."

 

While reading Watching the Lights Go Out I learned not to pity Hilfiker but to admire his resilience and honesty. He created the blog partly to tell his story, but also to "dispel some of the fear and embarrassment that surrounds Alzheimer's." The story of his disease, which he is literally telling as it progresses, is told honestly and from a perspective unique to those suffering the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Both heartbreaking and endearing, Hilfiker's blog takes the reader on a journey through Alzheimer's disease through the eyes of someone with Alzheimer's disease. It's truly eye opening.

 

World Alzheimer's Day/Month highlights stories like Hilfiker's that teach us not to fear the disease but to grow as a community and embrace finding the light in the darkness. After reading his and other accounts of Alzheimer's disease, learning about ways people cope is amazing. Hilfiker's description of how the disease forced him to make eye contact and notice small features to help remember faces represents the strength that can be discovered when faced with an impending battle.   

 

So when helping to bring awareness to Alzheimer's disease this month, remember it's not about feeling sorry and scared for sufferers of the disease, but acknowledging all forms of the champions that are winning the fight.

 

Here are some ways you can help raise awareness:

 

  1. Wear purple, the official color of Alzheimer's disease awareness, or change your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to purple.
  2. Walk for the cause. There are charity walks all across the country.
  3. Share your story with the Alzheimer's disease community on the Alzheimer's Association webpage.

 

*Please note this is from the extended edition. I own the series on Blu-ray. Contact me for viewing parties.

Blair can be found on Google Plus.

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