How Powerful Memories Fuel My Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin [Getty Images]

My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s before I was even a teenager.

I watched that battle for about seven years. I was living with my mom and my sister at the time, and my mom took care of my grandmother until she couldn’t any longer. It was a really, really tough time. The worst part was seeing my mom, up late at night crying. Just seeing the relationship of a mother and daughter deteriorate like that—my grandmother not even remembering who we were. It was a powerful thing for me, even at that age.

As I got older, it stayed with me. And I knew I wanted to do something.

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I started getting involved. I started doing the work. I got involved with Allergan’s educational initiative LearnAboutAlz.com, because I saw how much groundwork they had already done to raise awareness. With World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21st, everything just seemed to align. You see, there are a lot of misconceptions about Alzheimer’s, but it’s also not so far removed from most people. A lot of people have either experienced it, like one or two degrees of separation from it in their own lives—it’s happened in their family or they’ve seen it happen in someone else’s.

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin [Getty Images]

When I was watching my grandmother, my mom was pretty honest with us from the start. We could also see it happening. It would just be little things in the beginning, and my mom would talk us through it. She’d explain, “Your grandma’s not remembering where she …” It began with not remembering the day or appointments. Then it progressed to not remembering who we were or who she was. Seeing all that was powerful because it’s not something that happens overnight, like they pass away and you mourn. It’s more like a really slow death. It’s especially terrible.

But if this didn’t happen to me personally, I might not be here now, getting involved with Allergan and their initiative, LearnAboutAlz.com. I might not have been so willing to get out in front of it, if I didn’t have this personal understanding of Alzheimer’s. I’m in a position to use whatever celebrity I have to raise awareness, to be a part of it, and I’m doing what I can. I’m amazed at the work that’s been done already. LearnAboutAlz.com is a great resource. Looking at what they’ve put down on paper already, providing a roadmap to help caregivers and to help people who are experiencing it themselves. It lets people know they are not alone.

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There’s no real cure for Alzheimer’s, so awareness and treatment are the most important things at this stage. Making people feel less alone. Giving them resources and information. Hopefully, things will eventually change.

I think with everybody having a voice now on the Internet, people are more hyperaware of a wide variety of issues or causes. Beyond that, there’s a lot of noise in the world, too. You have to fight the good fight and stand by what you believe in, using your experience to give back. We all have the ability to use our own voice and awareness to help, too.

But most importantly….my mom is thrilled about all of this. Having her just say, “Thank you” for raising awareness and being active in supporting the cause— I also work with other names in the industry to awareness around Alzheimer’s—it’s just amazing. I’m like a hero to her and my family, you know, and what can be better than that?

 


Scott Eastwood is an actor and producer, best known for roles in films such as The Fate of the Furious, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and Suicide Squad. Allergan is a Dublin, Ireland-based pharmaceutical company and creator of the educational website LearnAboutAlz.com.