A.J. Plummer set out on an advocacy mission for an underrepresented portion of our population: Alzheimer’s patients.
In January 2013, the Winchester resident and frequent lecturer at the Jenks Center became Senator Ed Markey’s Ambassador of Alzheimer’s Care for the Commonwealth of Mass and recently became the Director of Memory Care Services for the Residences at Wingate in Needham, actively advocating for a more in-your-face campaign to help the families, assisted living centers and first responders to better understand the disease and have more resources at their disposal.
Senator Markey contacted Plummer when he was is in the House of Representatives after she received two awards from the State for advocacy. “There isn’t a huge voice for the afflicted and their families when it comes to Alzheimer’s,” Plummer said.
“I saw this at support groups and heard the stories of family members. The rights of the afflicted are the highest priority next to educating loved ones on how to handle the disease. Another issue is educating first responders on how to handle someone with dementia in a traumatic situation like a car accident.”
Like Senator Markey, Plummer’s grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s. “We have so much understanding and public support for diseases like breast cancer, but not much for Alzheimer’s,” Plummer said. “The cost of this disease will break Medicare in the near future. Most families can’t afford to put mom or dad in an assisted living home or afford home visiting specialists.”
Plummer said that there are an estimated 5.5 million people with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to reach 15 million by 2050. “Everyone will know someone effected if they already don’t know someone living with Alzheimer’s.” One in eight people over the age of 65 are diagnosed every year. These numbers worsen as time goes on: One in every two people over the age of 85 are diagnosed in America.
“We have to stand up for people living with Alzheimer’s because they are literally voiceless,” Plummer said.