Bradley W. Bateman
President of Randolph College
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5.2 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s. And in 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care.
Yet this disease—which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States—still carries a powerful stigma. Those who are diagnosed often hesitate to share with friends and family, out of shame or fear.
Our alumnae and alumni are not immune and know too well the impact of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, whether they are experiencing the disease personally or caring for a loved one.
An e–mail from Alice Lusby Pasqualetti ’52 recently prompted us to delve deeper into how Alzheimer’s was affecting our College family. Alice included a beautifully written piece detailing her experience with the disease. After years of dealing with her diagnosis, she made the courageous decision to speak out in hopes of letting others know they are not alone.
The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple to as many as 16 million. I’m proud to report that a Randolph professor and her students are at the forefront of Alzheimer’s research, participating in a national project to produce a functional monitoring system along with the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Their work seeks to make Alzheimer’s care more effective and efficient using cell phones and smart watches.
For patients struggling with the disease, and the stigma attached to it, the journey through Alzheimer’s is anything but easy. As Alice wrote in her poignant essay,
“I am finding my way over uncharted land; there are bumps and snags…I handle each day to the best of my remaining ability: I take my meds; I do my gym program; I plan meals and go grocery shopping with a driver; I read in English, French and Spanish, listen to music and write to a few friends; I refer to the day’s agenda which I write and post throughout the house; I look at the calendar in each room trying to keep myself anchored in time and place; I show up for medical appointments; I use the tools the speech therapist has given me — I want to hold on to friends albeit reduced in number; and I say “Gratitudes” every day since there is much to be thankful for.
“AD requires the ultimate in patience. One day—how far in the future?—I shall run out of patience. For now, each morning I say my mantra: WE PUSH ON!”
We dedicate this issue of the Bulletin to the many courageous alumnae and alumni who are dealing with Alzheimer’s.
Bradley W. Bateman