DEAR ABBY: After a 10-year battle, I recently lost my husband to Alzheimer's disease. My darling was handsome, brilliant and athletic, a chemist and an avid golfer. Our family was confused and concerned when he began losing the ability to do simple tasks.
The progression of his illness was devastating physically, emotionally and financially. No one should have this disease, either as a person afflicted with it or as a caregiver who is helpless to intervene.
Alzheimer's disease is not the funny punch line of a joke that it has been made out to be. It's the seventh-leading cause of death in this country, yet it doesn't seem to get the attention that cancer, heart disease or even AIDS does. What can I do to ensure that Alzheimer's won't affect my children and grandchildren? -- ELIZABETH IN DALLAS
DEAR ELIZABETH: Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. Alzheimer's disease has been called "the long goodbye" with good reason. Your concerns are echoed by the families of the more than 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer's and the nearly 10 million people who are providing their care. If something isn't done about it now, an estimated 16 million people will have it by the year 2050.
I applaud your determination to get involved. Sept. 21 is World Alzheimer's Day, and I hope that you -- and others -- will join the Alzheimer's Association by becoming an Alzheimer's Champion, as I have. To learn more about the disease and how you can take steps to join the fight, visit � HYPERLINK "http://www.actionalz.org" ��www.actionalz.org�.