William Glass, who has seen the devastating toll that Alzheimer’s disease inflicts on families as a caregiver for his mother, is setting out on a 640-mile walk from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of the disease and advocate for Congress to increase funding for research.
The Chicago native helps care for his mother, Eileen, who lives with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home in Atlanta. He is calling his current campaign “Until a Cure.”
Alzheimer’s is a “national crisis that is bankrupting America,” Glass said in a press release. He will collect signatures on a petition addressing the concerns of many families he meets along his journey, and hopes he will be able to deliver it to President Donald Trump when he reaches nation’s capital.
“Until the prevention and/or a cure is found, our long-term care industry is not prepared for the onslaught of victims,” Glass said. “I feel that unless drastic measures are taken, we will start to see a warehouse epidemic.”
Along his journey, Glass not only wants to meet with families who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s, but also with state representatives, calling on them to demand higher standards, ethics, transparency and training at dementia care facilities nationwide. He will also be raising money during his walk to benefit the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), which provides programs and services that support individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, as well as their families and caregivers..
Glass, who will chronicle his journey on social media, expects to complete his walk in roughly 30 days and will cross the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, on his way to Washington D.C. He will wear teal-colored sneakers, representing Alzheimer’s awareness.
“It is truly admirable what Mr. Glass is doing. We need to increase awareness of this debilitating disease, while eliminating the stigma that goes with it,” said Bert E. Brodsky, AFA’s founder and chairman of the board. “We appreciate William’s efforts. It is a daring task. The more voices are heard, the more we can make a difference, and hopefully, reach the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which is to find a cure by 2025.”
This is the second time Glass has undertaken a long journey to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. In August 2013, he completed a walk from Chicago to Atlanta in a mission called “Flowers for Mom.” His purpose was to get from Lombard, Ill., where he was living at the time, to Atlanta, where his mother lives, while raising awareness and funds along the way. He walked over 750 miles in two months and raised more than $10,000.
If Glass has the opportunity to meet with President Trump, he said he plans to bring up issues including the need for stricter regulations on hospice service, overuse of anti-psychotic/neuroleptic medications, and the need for more funds to advance research on drugs that do not have a 60 percent mortality rate. He also hopes to ask President Trump why at-home care will not be covered by Medicare and Medicaid, when it is reportedly cheaper than nursing home care.