Looking back at 2017, what a year of disappointments,challenges and loss. And I know I am not alone. But when I stop and think back, it was also a great year, a year to give thanks, to be proud, and to celebrate. And did I say “give thanks?” because if you are like me, you know people—dear, good friends who are not with us as we usher in 2018.
But with that said, 2017 was rough. I’m glad it’s in the rear view mirror. However, I need to approach the new year differently.
I spent much of 2017, just wanting it to be over, to end, to get to a new year. That new year is now here. And no matter what 2018 brings, I’m going to stop wishing time away. Each day is a gift, even the bad ones. I am going to try and live more in the moment. Ironically that is something people with Alzheimer’s are forced to do—live in the moment, which brings me to why I haven't posted in awhile; absent but far from inactive!
Like everyone I was in the mad dash of getting ready for the holidays, but it was complicated by my preoccupation and focus on Alzheimer's in communities of color. (Just the fact I could start out talking about 2017, moving forward and “living in the moment” and then end up on Alzheimer’s, lets you know it is on my mind—no pun intended).
And my girls vouch for this preoccupation as they roll their eyes every time I “once again” recite some new fact discovered about the disease, or its impact on African Americans, Hispanics and indigenous people.
Don’t misunderstand, Alzheimer’s disease is devastating no matter one’s race or socioeconomic station in life. Finding a cure and treatments for ALL people has to be a priority. Yet, like with so many other health disparities, Alzheimer’s disproportionately impacts people of color. It does not receive the attention it needs. I have watched many great documentaries on the subject, but I have yet to find one that deals exclusively with people of color, and none include African Americans as experts or community activists. Time to change that!
In reading my last few blog posts—they all centered around Alzheimer's. It is a reoccurring theme in most of my Facebook and Twitter posts. So not surprisingly, I have received more than a few concerned inquiries from folks, worrying that I might be “writing from what I know.”
No, I am not a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s and I do not have the disease.
Well, hold up on the last part of that sentence.
Certainly I am of an age where every time you forget why you entered a room, or struggle to connect a name to a face, you wonder....
And “senior moment references” have become part of my lexicon. These are all signs of getting older, which...Yikes! I am. But Alzheimer’s is something different. It is not a part of normal aging, but rather a disease of the brain. And while I haven't been diagnosed with it—at my yearly exam, Dr.Ling says I’m doing great “for someone my age” (did he have to add that?). The truth is, we are all at risk. While it’s uncomfortable to talk about a disease that goes to cognition—our ability to think, and to our memories which hold the essence of our humanity, talk we must, if we are to remove the stigma. There was a time we didn't talk about AIDS, and before that even cancer. Alzheimer’s dictates it’s time for a change.
In one of my post this fall, I made a pledge to “take action,” and as I head into the new year that’s what I am doing.
Starting this month, I am working on a documentary tentatively called "In Search of Lost Time – Alzheimer’s Impact on Communities of Color." I have partnered with a veteran documentarian and his team. In the coming months, we will be reaching out to you for support, guidance, and even collaboration.
For our Christmas gifts, my girls and I are traveling abroad for a few days to support one of their friends who is doing an amazingly unselfish gap year.
As part of my belief, we are at our best when we connect globally and support women, I am excited to be part of the festivities welcoming the Second Lady of Ghana, at the end of the month.
In February, I am giving a TEDx Talk in Norristown about health disparities and what we should do about it.
I continue to advocate for young girls and women. I am so excited to have been approached by a young college woman who wanted to connect with women of color alums. She believes the collaboration will make a difference on campus, and we will be gathering in March.
So much for living in the moment. I’ve just planned out the next few months.
Old habits die hard. But I will also take time to watch more movies, watch what I eat (living one block from a cornucopia of amazing bakeries and shops won’t make that easy), I will count my blessings, love my kids, my husband, my mom, my family and friends.
I will do better, be better, and bet on 2018 as the year that is bright for us all. It’s time for a change.