Ron Mayes says he just wants to contribute something while he still can.
As a result, he’s joining a movement to reclaim the future for millions by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s set for noon on Oct. 13 at Military Park in downtown Indianapolis.
In 2001, Mayes’ mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He and his siblings sought support groups and Helpline assistance from the Alzheimer’s Association to support their father, who became their mother’s caregiver.
A few years later, Mayes started having trouble multitasking at work. He tried and failed to take a certification test three times, unable to gather his thoughts on material of which he was familiar. Devastated and discouraged, he began to recognize symptoms of early-stage dementia and decided to educate himself further. He attended a few programs hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association and gained support and encouragement to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
“I am a retired Indiana school superintendent,” he said in a press release. “I have earned a doctorate in educational leadership, and I have experienced a lifetime of high achievement. Much of my life has been spent promoting the effective development of young minds. As ironic as it may seem, I now find considerable fascination with the steady decline of my own mind.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and is now the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. As baby boomers age, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease will rapidly escalate, increasing well beyond today’s more than 5 million. In Indiana alone, there are more than 120,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I possibly have a shorter life than I envisioned,” Mayes said, “but I can contribute to something and educate people. It [diagnosis] could have been for this purpose.”