For twelve years Lynda Everman was a silent caregiver. Her husband, Richard, was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 1997; in an effort to preserve his dignity, she told few people what they were going through.
“We were both introverts and very private people,” Lynda says. “My husband and I were a team, taking care of each other, moving through a situation that was too painful to address in public.”
After she had to move her beloved husband into assisted living, she went on her first advocacy trip to her state capital, Nashville, where she began telling their story. Along with activist Kathy Siggins, Lynda campaigned for a semipostal stamp that could raise money for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
The proposed stamp is similar to the Breast Cancer semipostal: consumers pay a little extra for the stamp and the additional funds go to the NIH for medical research. The US Postal Service has raised more than 78 million dollars for breast cancer through sales of that stamp. Lynda and Kathy wanted the same opportunity for Alzheimer’s research.
Lynda has become a tireless advocate for fighting Alzheimer’s. On her advocacy site, Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s, she shares research and legislative updates, caregiving tips, the work of fellow advocates, and words of encouragement. In 2013 she shared her full caregiving story, using it to introduce herself to politicians, community volunteers, caregivers, and other activists. She is a founding member of three national networks, all under the umbrella of USAgainstAlzheimer’s: ActivistsAgainstAlzheimer’s, ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s, and WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s and a Board Member of Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science. Together they campaign for policy change and for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research.
Lynda has written to every member of Congress. She and Kathy visited more than 60 members of Congress, trying to persuade them to sponsor and approve the Alzheimer’s semipostal. Both the House and Senate have to give their “stamp” of approval before the Congressional Budget Office can consider the stamp.
Here’s where you come in. The stamp requires no governmental funding or increase in taxes. It’s bi-partisan and bi-cameral. You can help RIGHT NOW by calling your congressperson and Senators, and asking them to cosponsor H.R. 1508 and S. 1091.
“It is important to share your story and speak out for those who cannot,” Lynda says. “ Please help them and their caregivers—and help us make this fundraising stamp a reality.”
To call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, dial 202-224-3121 and ask to be put through to the offices of your two Senators and Representative.
If you don’t know the names of your representatives, you can get that information, as well as the direct line to their offices, by visiting: http://www.contactingthecongress.org.
For more about Lynda’s work, please visit: http://www.leadcoalition.org/2013/11/journey-caregiver-activist/
For more about the semi postal, please visit http://alzjourney.com/2014/02/15/help-stamp-out-alzheimers/
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.