Alzheimer’s and dementia have touched millions of people in 2014, some of them quite well known.
It can be tremendously difficult to open up about Alzheimer’s—especially if you’re doing it in the public eye. Here, Alzlive pays tribute to those who disclosed their dementia this year, and to those who we’ve lost to the disease.
This spring, it was announced that Malcolm Young would be taking a break from AC/DC. But it wasn’t until the fall that news broke confirming the guitarist was living with dementia. His nephew, Stevie Young, has replaced the 61-year-old on the band’s latest album, Rock or Bust, and will fill in for him on their upcoming 2015 world tour.
Prowse played Darth Vader in the Star Wars films from 1977 to 1983. The 79-year-old was diagnosed with dementia this summer, and went public with the news shortly after.
Although he won’t be appearing in the upcoming Star Wars film, Prowse has done some acting recently. Back in 1975, Prowse starred in a PSA as the Green Cross Man, a superhero who teaches civilians to pay attention before crossing the road. This year, he took up the role again in a modern-day version of the commercial.
Former Dallas Cowboy Rayfield Wright was one of the first to disclose he had dementia this year when he went public in early January. The 69-year-old is among the over 4,500 players who have sued the NFL, claiming that the sports league concealed what it knew about the dangers of repeated head injuries.
His story has helped to bring awareness to the fact that NFL players develop dementia and Alzheimer’s at a much higher rate than the general population.
Fans of Spirit of the West learned that the Canadian guitarist had Alzheimer’s this year when he came public in a statement posted on the band’s website. “I know this will come as a shock to many of you,” the 51-year-old wrote. “It wasn’t for me. I’ve had my fears and suspicions, but I was remaining hopeful that there was some other cause for the problems I was experiencing.”
Mann continues to perform, using an iPad to remember lyrics. His bandmates have expressed support, saying they will stand behind him.
The Denver Bronco’s owner, who helped lead the team to six Super Bowl appearances, gave up control of the franchise earlier this year due to his continuing battle with Alzheimer’s.
“Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years,” his wife, Annabel Bowlen, said in a statement at the time the news broke. “He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, ‘It’s not about me.’”
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