Actor Seth Rogen testified at the US Senate hearing on Alzheimer's Research on Feb. 26. A disease that effects more than five million Americans today, Rogen is one in millions who has been personally effected by the Alzheimer's. At the hearing, Rogen spoke of his experiences and charity, Hilarity for Charity.
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Deaths from Alzheimer's has increased over 70% in the last 15 years and the numbers are expected to rise without more funding going towards researching about the disease. "Americans whisper the word 'Alzheimer's' because their government whispers the word Alzheimer's," Rogen said. "Although a whisper is better than the silence the Alzheimer's community has been facing for decades, it's still not enough... (Alzheimer's) needs to get the funding it deserves and needs."
Hilarity for Charity is a fund-raising effort that works with the Alzheimer's Association. Proceeds raised help families struggling with the disease and help fund research. "Instead of being disappointed that people were misinformed about the reality of the disease, we started to educate them," Rogen said. The charity helps universities hold their own Hilarity for Charities events and 18 schools have already signed up to hold events.
Rogen pushes for more to be done and wants to show people that they are not alone. The shame and stigma associated with the disease allows for it to be neglected in terms of education and research. "Before I was born... Cancer had a stigma that people were ashamed by. Celebrities and other public figures who were stricken would rather hide than be voices of hope for those in similar situations and although it is turning, this is currently where we are largely at with Alzheimer's disease it seems like."
"I started dating my wife Lauren nine years ago, when her mother was almost 54 years old," Rogen said. "The first time I met her parents... Lauren first admitted to heself and then to me that something was off with her mother." His wife's mother was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's, a disease that her mother's parents both had, had the disease.
"I thought it was something like really, really old people got and I thought the way the disease primarily showed itself was in the form of forgotten keys, wearing mismatched shoes, and being asked the same question over and over," Rogen recalled.
It was shortly after his mother-in-law was diagnosed that he saw the realities of the disease. Rogen said, "I saw the real ugly truth of the disease. After forgetting who she and her loved ones were, my mother-in-law, teacher for 35 years, then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself, and go to the bathroom herself, all by the age of 60."
"Laurens father and a team of caregivers dedicated their lives to letting my mother-in-law be as comfortable as she can be. They would love to do more but can't because... there (currently) is no way to prevent, cure, or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease."
Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. According to Alzheimer's Association, "In 2013, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer's to American society will total an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid."