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Alzheimer’s and “Blowin’ in the Wind”

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Sandy Halperin, DDS

Today’s post comes from Alexander Sandy Halperin. Sandy is a husband, a father of two, and a prosthodontist by training. Sandy also has Alzheimer’s Disease. After a lifetime of public service and education, Sandy has now turned his energies towards advocating for on behalf of those with Alzheimer’s Disease, as a member of the National Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Advisory Group. (You can see even more of Sandy’s impressive background on LinkedIn.)

Sandy recently wrote a short post about Alzheimer’s advocacy, connecting it to the song “Blowin’ In The Wind.” He has given me permission to reprint it here.

Alzheimer’s and “Blowing in the Wind”

In thinking this morning about my having early-stage Alzheimer’s, the first song that comes to mind is “Blowing in the Wind” written by Bob Dylan and sung by him; Peter, Paul and Mary, and a bunch of others.

The National Alzheimer’s Association is holding its annual Advocacy Forum in Washington, DC on April 20-24th and I will be attending that meeting along with my daughter Karen and wife Gail. During that time, there will be many meeting and get-togethers of advocates, including my being able to meet with members of Congress and the Senate to express my personal feelings about awareness, the stigma/embarrassment that hugely surrounds having those that have the disease, and what I believe is needed — the nation’s leaders to declare a “War on Alzheimer’s” by substantially increasing the funding for what is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. One in three people who die in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s at the time of their passing.

As I sit with each member of Congress and the Senate in several weeks, I will probably ask them to get the true feeling what it would be like to sit in my chair versus theirs; with their having a cognitive problem (Alzheimer’s), or the fact that one of their family members or friends may have or get the horrible disease. Having them put my shoes on their feet may help them better understand what it is like having the early-stages of the disease, and for me not knowing what the future holds with regards to my cognitive health is tough — and that is along with millions and millions of others (patients and caregivers) that are coping with the disease. This is not about me and it is not the time for any member of Congress or the Senate to “turn their heads”.

So, I ask, is it the time for any member of Congress or the Senate to turn their head and look the other way, not paying attention to the dramatically growing numbers of individuals in the US that are diagnosed or will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – with a new diagnosis of somebody having Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds, whew! I do not intend on making this a political issue with any legislator, it is a serious health issue that faces our nation.

The time to act is right now – and to put as much muscle and dollars into the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) and for additional curative research. Yes, there will be lots of meetings about the subject, but at the same time it is urgent to put initiatives and efforts into affect without unnecessary delays. The devastating statistics continue to pour in regarding Alzheimer’s and there is no time to delay tangible and caring actions.

Here are some of the lyrics to “Blowing in the Wind”:

“…Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind…”

I want to express my appreciation to my family for assisting me in my writing…

…and I want to thank you for sharing your voice here, Sandy. We wish you the best of luck at the upcoming advocacy forum!

5 comments… add one
  • Reading this makes the lyrics take on a totally different meaning. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Thanks Rachelle and Sandy for sharing. Once again – music’s wonderful way in expressing feelings. Working w/ dementia pts and having a father w/ dementia, my heart goes out to Sandy and all his efforts.

  • Sandy Halperin

    Below are links to YouTube for the lyrics of Blowin in the Wind by both Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary provided by a close friend of mine, Michael Krehl, a few weeks back.
    Thanks and best regards,
    Sandy Halperin
    ================

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUX9IcSzHX0

    Bob Dylan Blowin in the Wind – Letra (Lyrics)
    http://www.youtube.com
    The Best Of Bob Dylan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfrG6_TvTQw

    PETER PAUL & MARY – BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND
    http://www.youtube.com
    A song written by Bob Dylan in 1962.

  • Sandy & Rachelle,

    Thank you so much for this reminder about an important area of health advocacy! That’s a beautiful song, and now I will always hear it in a slightly different way.

    Warmly,
    Ann

  • Hi Rachelle – yes I love this. Yes we will have large elderly ghettos soon of persons with Alzheimers…it is a horrible disease. We and our congress turns a deaf ear to many many important social issues. agreed.

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