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What is an Alzheimer's advocate and how do I become one?

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Updated January 07, 2009

Photo © Microsoft

Alzheimer's advocates often wear a purple ribbon to signify their cause.

Photo © Microsoft
Question: What is an Alzheimer's advocate and how do I become one?
Answer: An Alzheimer's advocate is someone who speaks out on behalf of those affected by Alzheimer's disease and supports policies and programs that will hasten Alzheimer's and help those currently affected by the disease.

Alzheimer's advocates are people with the disease, caregivers, family members, friends, and anyone who wants to see an end to Alzheimer's and improved care and services for those who are touched by it now.

A new presidential administration brings fresh opportunities for advocacy, but advocates are always a powerful presence in the world of Alzheimer's disease. Elected officials and policy makers need to hear directly from those affected by Alzheimer's to really understand what kinds of policies and programs are needed.

Here are three ways to become an Alzheimer's advocate:

Develop your own advocacy pitch. Before contacting anyone, decide what you are going to say. It's always important to share your own story about how Alzheimer's has affected you, your loved one, and/or other family members and friends. Also choose one or two policy recommendations to focus on, such as increased research funding, more support for caregivers or better access to affordable long-term care for people with Alzheimer's disease.

Contact your elected officials. Find your elected officials by using the Alzheimer's Association's Elected Official Search Tool. Contact them in a way that's most comfortable to you, such as by phone, letter, email, or personal visit, if you can schedule one. Many elected officials can now be contacted through their own websites, which means you can make your voice heard at any time, day or night, from the comfort of your own computer.

Contact your administration. The Obama-Biden Administration has set up an unprecedented online system for the public to contribute thoughts and ideas about policy. At the administration's healthcare page, advocates can share why they think healthcare is important and what should be included in healthcare reform. Be sure to share your personal story along with your recommendations.

The Alzheimer's Association has created a National Alzheimer's Advocate Network to keep advocates informed of advocacy-related issues and to provide guidance for becoming an effective Alzheimer's advocate. It's free to join, and it's a great way to connect with other Alzheimer's advocates so that our collective voice can be heard loud and clear.

Sources:

Advocacy. Alzheimer's Association. December 19, 2008. http://www.alz.org/join_the_cause_advocacy.asp

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