On November 24, 2010, Alan Arnette will start his journey to climb the seven peaks around the world in one year to raise awareness for Alzheimer's disease. In August 2009, Arnette lost his mother, Ida Arnette, to Alzheimer's disease. Arnette hopes to climb Mt. Vinson Massif, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Everest, Mt. Denali, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Carstensz Pyramid by December 2011, and is also taking on an eighth challenge, Mt. Kosciuszko, for his campaign, The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's: Memories Are Everything. With support from the Alzheimer's Immunotherapy Program of Janessen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer Inc., Arnette will be raising money with this climb to go to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund. Arnette shared with EmpowHer his experience as his mother's caregiver, his fundraising and awareness efforts for Alzheimer's disease, and his advice to other children caring for a parent with Alzheimer's disease.
You were your mother's caregiver. What did that experience teach you about Alzheimer's disease and how has that shaped your advocacy for Alzheimer's disease awareness?
I was able to retire early from my job as a technology executive to care for my mom, Ida, during the last three years of her life. I cherish the fact that I got to be near my mom during her final days. Just like millions of other people caring for loved ones with the disease, I struggled to deal with the emotional, physical and financial tolls of this disease with no cure.
As I learned more about Alzheimer’s disease and saw my mother struggle with the disease, I felt like I had to do something to help future generations. Alzheimer’s affects more than 25 million people worldwide and this number is projected to quadruple to more than 100 million people in 2050. This drove me to set a huge goal for myself — to climb the seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent. Through a year-long effort — The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s: Memories are Everything — I hope to show how the mental and physical challenges of scaling peaks are similar to the trials faced by people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.