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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alzheimer’s Is a Growing Public Health Crisis
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alzheimer’s Is a Growing Public Health Crisis

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 140,000 Virginians over the age of 65 live with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, Latinos are at one and a half times greater risk of Alzheimer’s than older whites. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States. Alzheimer’s costs the country more than $259 billion a year.

My grandfather, my “Abuelito” in Spanish, was an outgoing, social, and active man and a caring grandfather. One day, he was wandering nearby on surrounding streets, unable to find his way home after one of his daily walks. Luckily, a neighbor recognized him and knew where we lived. She brought him back to our house. My parents could not afford the increasing care he needed as a person living with Alzheimer’s. My family decided he would return to Peru, where my aunts served as his caregivers.

I remember Abuelito sometimes picked me up from school. Every once in a while, we walked to McDonald’s to get his favorite Big Mac meal and he would buy me a Happy Meal, too. We used to go trick-or-treating together every Halloween. He gladly held my plastic pumpkin filled with candy. Due to Alzheimer’s, I was unable to spend more quality time with my grandfather. We could not take day trips together to Luray Caverns or to the National Aquarium. I missed out on listening to him tell stories about his life experiences and family history.

Please join me in calling on U.S. Rep. Don Beyer to support an additional $425 million for Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institutes of Health, with the goal of achieving breakthroughs in prevention and treatment. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s. Visit www.alz.org/nca for more information.

Jacqueline Calderon

Alzheimer’s advocate

Falls Church