Meet Carrie Richardson, a 34-year-old single mom of three from Montgomery, who was diagnosed more than two years ago with Early Onset Familial Alzheimer’s. Since then, she has been a leading voice raising awareness about Alzheimer’s across Alabama, even serving as ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association for District 2 in Alabama.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD) is a rare form of Alzheimer’s that is entirely passed down through members of a family. Accounting for between 2-3% of all cases of Alzheimer’s, FAD usually has a much earlier onset than other types of Alzheimer’s, with symptoms developing as young as the 30s and 40s.
Richardson’s family has experienced the effects of FAD for generations. Her father was merely 4-years-old when his mother died from the disease while in her 40s. He and his three brothers all inherited the disease from their mother, passing away at 43-years-old after having been diagnosed at age 36.
Years later, Richardson’s oldest cousin was diagnosed with FAD at age 36. He died a year later.
After being diagnosed two years ago, Richardson was directed to the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network and encouraged to start taking the drug Gantenerumab, a drug used to slow down the Alzheimer’s process.
Richardson has three children, Hannah (14), Jacob (12), and Rylee (9). Richardson has said that her biggest fear is her children experiencing the effects of her own diagnosis.
“I didn’t think I was going to have it,” she said of her disease. “I had this weird notion that because my aunt was one of the five children who didn’t get it, that I wasn’t going to get it, too. I can’t even really describe it. I just sat there, and didn’t really show any emotion until the genetic counselor came in and talked about the chances of my children getting it. And that’s when I lost it.”
The mother of three bravely prepares for her children’s future taking the necessary steps of purchasing insurance policies and drafting a living will. She collects memories for her three children and wants them to understand her love for them, and passion for the Alzheimer’s cause.
“I don’t want to sit here and call myself strong or courageous,” she said. “I feel like that’s what any mother would do in the same situation.”
Richardson is a leading participant in The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. The Montgomery Walk to End Alzheimer’s is on Oct. 31 at 10:30 a.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. If you would like to donate, participate, and support the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease, please visit Carrie’s donation page.
Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death and in Alabama, there are approximately 86,000 people living with Alzheimer’s aged 65 and older. By the year 2025, that number is expected to increase to 110,000 people aged 65 years old and older. Nationwide, about 16 million will have the disease in 2050.
For more information follow Carrie @ to stay up to date with her latest Alzheimer work.
To learn about Alzheimer’s research, visit the Alzheimer’s Association online at www.alz.org.
To make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s please visit act.alz.org.
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— John James (@john_james_20) August 19, 2015