I just lost my mother to early-onset Alzheimer’s less than two weeks ago. She was only 65. She was diagnosed right before her 59th birthday. The progression was swift and agressive in the last couple of years as she lost all ability to care for herself, eventually including the ability to speak and ambulate. My father and I managed to keep her at home with the help of some incrediable aides up until the last two and a half weeks of her life. My father and I were at her bedside when she passed.

I suffered a lot of depression and hopelessness as I witnessed my mother lose more and more of her cognition and lose the resemblance to the mother I grew up with. Yet, at the same time, the love for my mother grew as we developed a connection that was beyond words. I hope the love I gave her, especially in the later years, was able to make her feel some semblance of comfort amidst the confusion and devestation of Alzheimer’s.

Around a year and a half ago, I decided to get involved with my local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. I testified at my state Capitol for respite care funding, I spoke to local media about the importance of cost-effective homecare programs, I attended the National Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington DC, I became part of my local chapter’s public policy committee, and more recently I became a Congressional Ambassador. Getting involved has helped with the pain of losing my mother to this horrible disease. And by becoming part of the bigger cause it’s opened my eyes to just how critical raising awareness is, as well as advocating for increased research funding and urging our Congress men and women to support critical pieces of legislation that are intended to conquer the Alzheimer’s crisis in the US.