June is Alzheimer's & Brain  Awareness Month. For some it's a month to learn and educated themselves about the disease that millions of Americans are living with, but for me it's a month to continue on thinking of the one person the disease stole from me.

There are, unfortunately, so many stories out there, but let me tell you mine. It's been almost 5 years since the horrible disease of Alzheimer's took my mother away. I say mother because it took my mom away about 18 months before. I would love to say the pain isn't as bad or I don't still cry, but that's just not the case. The thing is, grief has no rule book or guided timeline on how we are supposed to feel. All I know is at 57 I still need my mom.

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The Facts About Alzheimer's

The latest statistics are staggering. More than half of the 6.5 million American's with the disease may not even know they have it and it kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. In 2020 and 2021 it was listed as the 7th leading cause of death.

The fierce rampage of Alzheimer's is not slowing down, yet getting worse. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 7.2 million — an 11% increase from the 6.5 million age 65 and older affected in 2022 according to the Alzheimer's Association. I could go on with facts and figures, but all I know is it took my mom.

Shortly after she passed away I had the chance to write a piece for local magazine about my journey and the loss of the one woman I inspired to be. The woman that to this day I can still hear her beautiful  words of wisdom in my head when I need it the most. Writing became cathartic at the perfect time as I tried to make sense of how something so horrible and cruel as this disease could take away someone so wonderful and loved.

"I found myself talking with other daughters and sons of Alzheimer’s patients and found our common bond was the anger. Not at our loved ones, but at the disease itself, at the cruel reality of what was happening. At times I even found myself asking God to make it stop, to end this cycle that was slowly stealing her dignity and spirit before our eyes. Taking her ability to remember who I was. Her ability to walk, eat and communicate. As if someone was turning off her body one switch at a time."

I was fortunate to have the story shared once again through local media outlets and found I sadly wasn't alone in my thoughts and pain. I say sadly because there were so many more that had lost, or were losing, a parent to this vicious thief of memories.

If you are a daughter or a son, a husband or a wife, or anyone that is watching the cycle of Alzheimer's begin to run its evil course, know that you are not alone and more importantly your loved one is "in there". Their heart & soul  is the one thing the disease can't take away...ever.

For resources, assistance, or general information contact the Alzheimer's Association at www.alz.org. The Walk to End Alzheimer's raises much needed funds for research and development of treatment plans and hopefully one day a cure. Please join me October 8th in Flint and let's walk for those fighting the disease, caring for those who have the disease, and those lost to Alzheimer's

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.