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Archive for March, 2010

By Billy Collins (Poet)

“The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of, as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

 Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag.  And even now as you memorize the order of the planets.

Something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

Note:  A good friend sent me a copy of this poem, adding “Here’s a funny take on forgetfulness that we can all appreciate!” 

I appreciate it, too!

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I am pleased to tell you A LOT of good things on the Alzheimer’s front!

First, Greg and I were elected to the Board of Directors of the Western N.C. Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. (The Western chapter includes Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville and Hickory.) Greg is chairman of the communications committee and I will serve on the committee as well.

We have some incredibly talented and supportive members on the board, including a professional Alzheimer’s caregiver, a neurologist and a lawyer (you always need one of those!)  More importantly, we are thrilled we might be able to make a real difference – because there is no time to waste.

More than 5 million people have Alzheimer’s, with an additional person being diagnosed every 70 seconds. By mid-century, someone will be diagnosed every 33 seconds. In North Carolina, there are currently 60,000 people with this deadly illness. The direct costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias to Medicare and Medicaid alone are more than $148 billion each year. By 2050, this cost is expected to rise to more than $800 billion. Currently, for every $2.50 spent by the Federal government on Alzheimer’s care, only one penny is spent seeking a cure.

We must work hard to help change this, and our chapter has taken a big step.

We just returned from the annual Alzheimer’s Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., where we lobbied our Senators and Representatives about the importance of funding for Alzheimer’s. We primarily met with the legislative staff of our senators and representatives, but we did get some face time with Kay Hagan, Richard Burr and, briefly, Mel Watt.

Interestingly, almost everyone we talked to – including a group of high school students – said at they knew someone with Alzheimer’s!!

As the baby boomers age, the numbers of patients and cost of care for Alzheimer’s will vastly escalate and add considerable cost for elder care.

To begin changing this, the main goal of our trip to D.C. was to advocate for three critical pieces of legislation:

  • The Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, which provides a steady stream of funding for Alzheimer’s research, care and education.
  • The Alzheimer’s Detection, Diagnosis, Care and Planning Act, which will increase detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and provide access, information and support for newly diagnosed patients.
  • The National Alzheimer’s Project Act will establish a National Alzheimer’s Project Office and inter-agency Advisory Council responsible for creating a national Alzheimer’s Plan.

If you have the time, please send an e-mail or letter to your Congressional Representative and Senator, asking him or her to co-sponsor these three initiatives. If you need the name and address of your Senator or Representative, I can provide that information.

 It’s well past time to help everyone Live Life to the Fullest. Let’s begin now!

Thanks for your support!!

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