Anytime a meeting begins with the words, “Can I offer you a Slim Jim?”, you know you’ve come to a welcoming place.
I would not have expected such unpretentious banter in a politician’s office, but my first advocacy meeting with Congressman John K. Delaney’s office (his staffer Kevin Mack), along with my pals from my local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, was nothing short of a productive, encouraging experience. Maybe I am just naive to good theatrics and well versed talking points, but it definitely wasn’t the high-faluting lip-service I might have expected.
Although we were there with a specific agenda, I can see the value in forming relationships with these district staffers. Regardless of your ideology or partisanship, it is important that your local government hear your concerns. In the quest to find a treatment or a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers will need money. In order to alleviate caregiver burden and improve education and resource management for the newly diagnosed, we will need money. The government holds the purse strings- they won’t know how badly it is needed for Alzheimer’s research and outreach unless they hear it from you.
And tell them exactly how difficult caregiving is. Tell them how much money you spend on caregivers, how much work you miss, how much sleep you go without, how difficult it is to have a life! Tell them!
There is no controversial battleground with Alzheimer’s disease. Everyone is basically on the same page. For a topic like Alzheimer’s disease, we all agree that something needs to be done. No protest signs necessary.
Some easy things you can do to help Alzheimer’s disease stay on the front burner of congressional conversation:
1. Write a letter to your local representative’s office. Tell them your story.
2. Schedule a meeting. Show up, look him or her in the eye, and ask what steps they are taking to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic.
3. Follow up after the meeting with another letter. Remind them of your story. Thank them for listening to you, THE VOTER!
4. Get your friends to do steps 1,2 and 3.