Alexander “Sandy” Halperin, DDS, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 60.
As a person living with dementia, Sandy has chosen to remain active as an alumni member of the National Early-Stage Advisory Group. He hopes to bring awareness to what he calls “invisible illnesses.”
On March 21, Sandy sent this stirring plea for more Alzheimer’s support.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
I am unfortunately living with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, as my family copes and suffers along with me. As such, I asked for assistance in writing this letter, but the thoughts and feelings expressed are mine and come from my heart. As a retired dentist (Prosthodontist), I spent my professional career in the healthcare environment. I continue helping others with dementia through my advocacy efforts on the local, state, national and international scenes. I served on the National Alzheimer’s Association’s Early Stage Advisory Group in 2012, and I have been the subject of filming for a documentary produced by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s team at CNN that will begin airing segments soon, leading to a full length documentary.
I want to express my deepest appreciation to you for your vigorous commitments to enhance the health care system in the United States and for your enactment of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) and support of Alzheimer’s research and care. This important legislation marks the first time any nation has set a time-bound goal of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s – a condition that experts have identified as the biggest U.S. and global health crisis of this generation.
While you have stimulated dynamic support for cognitive impairment research and care, we all know that much more needs to be done as soon as is possible. As you know, Alzheimer’s (and other cognitive impairments) are the single most costly health care condition to the U.S. government – a cost that now exceeds that for heart disease or cancer – and there are over 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Billions of dollars have been are being spent on research and care for other diseases and illnesses (with many cures and successful treatments having been found). Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders only receive approximately 500 million dollars from the U.S. government, and there are absolutely no cures. This is a disparity that I believe must be closed as soon as is possible so that we can find methods of prevention, cures and treatments for the millions of those with a cognitive impairment, and to assist their caregivers.
Hubert Humphrey famously said that the moral test of government is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens – children and those who are elderly and disabled. Mr. President, our nation receives reduced marks on how it treats many of its citizens who are living with dementia. Some other nations, including the U.K. and Japan, have set some high standards for supporting its citizens who are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The magnitude of the dementia challenge before our nation is already a giant, but the crisis will only continue to spiral as the baby boomer generation ages and cures for other diseases increases the lifespan of the U.S. population. I have a dream to stand with you and others who are living with dementia, along with members of Congress and Alzheimer’s advocates from around the U.S., in the Rose Garden of the White House when you make an announcement regarding your continued support for increasing funding for Alzheimer’s and other dementias – to at least $2 billion annually for this coming fiscal year, and increasing thereafter as is indicated to meet the goals of NAPA.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience to arrange such a meeting and get together – from the depth of my heart, please. I hope that you can help to make my dream come true for the many millions of Americans who are living with a cognitive impairment and their families and caregivers. I would love to see this meeting take place while I am still able to attend with my health conditions declining and that does mean in the near future.
With my best regards,
Alexander “Sandy” Halperin, DDS
Florida State University Medical School has established an “Alexander ‘Sandy’ Halperin, DDS Alzheimer’s Research Fund” to help support the important and progressive Alzheimer’s research that is being done at the medical school. I am thrilled to be of assistance to the medical school and it helps to bring me full circle back to my healthcare, research, clinical and academic roots that I had as a dentist (doing clinical work, research and teaching).
Some months ago, I started a LinkedIn Group called “De-Stigmatizing Alzheimer’s” and there are over 370 members at this time. Here is a link to the discussion area of the group.
Here is a link to a 2 minute Public Service Announcement (PSA) that was done with regards to my Alzheimer’s, etc with my daughter Laurie and me.
And, here is an article that recently appeared in Tallahassee Magazine.