About a year ago my producing partner, Trevor Albert, and I set out to film a feature-length documentary about legendary singer-songwriter Glen Campbell and his battle with Alzheimer's disease. During the course of making this film, my wife Jane and I became committed to the Alzheimer's cause and to signing up as Alzheimer's Association Champions. Every day we continue to be inspired by Glen and his wife, Kim, as they face Alzheimer's with tremendous bravery, strength and humor. Despite his diagnosis, he and his children have recorded his final album and embarked on a worldwide farewell tour.
It's in that spirit that we're extremely honored and humbled to be receiving, with Trevor, the Champion Award at the 2012 Alzheimer's Association Rita Hayworth New York Gala on Oct. 23 at The Waldorf Astoria New York.
It isn't solely our experience with Glen that has inspired our commitment to the fight against Alzheimer's. We also have a personal connection to the disease, which currently afflicts more than 5 million Americans.
My Aunt Grace had Alzheimer's for the last 15 years of her life and Jane has had two uncles who suffered with the disease. In each instance, the caregiver faithfully provided the time and energy necessary to be there for their loved one.
Alzheimer's is frightening and devastating in how it impacts not only those with the disease, but also their caregivers. More than 15 million family and friends currently are caring for the millions of Americans with Alzheimer's. And beyond the human toll, the economic devastation of the disease is astounding.
In 2012, caring for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the United States an estimated $200 billion, including $140 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. The number of people living with Alzheimer's will only soar, to a projected 16 million, as will costs -- reaching an estimated $1.1 trillion per year by 2050.
Right now, it feels as though all of us will end up becoming caregivers for someone we know and love unless we find a way to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and, ultimately, a cure.
Now is the time. The end of Alzheimer's starts with all of us.