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Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

A good laugh does heal a lot of hurts. The wise and imaginative writer Madeleine L’Engle said this. I agree. And so does “The brains behind saving yours,” the Alzheimer’s Association, California Central Coast Chapter.

What, you say? There’s nothing funny about dementia/Alzheimer’s. And I say you’re right. And you’re probably thinking, “Haven’t we talked about this before?” Yes. We have. We’ve talked about it more than once. But we need to talk about it again and again – until the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission to eliminate this scourge has been realized.

Here are some serious facts and figures to wrap your brain around:

Alzheimer’s disease deaths have increased a whopping 123 percent between 2000 and 2015. That makes it the sixth leading cause of death in the US – 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia – and it kills more than breast and prostate cancers combined. 5.7 million are currently living with Alzheimer’s. Every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s. If we don’t find a cure, 14 million is the projected number by 2050.

And let’s not forget these two important facts: Right now there are 16.1 million caregivers, providing an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at over $232 billion.

So here’s where the laughs come in. Two years ago, the brains behind fundraising for this steadfast organization decided what could be better than an evening of laughter to shine the spotlight on the need for critical funding. So, voila, they launched their inaugural Comedy Benefit Show.

When I was asked to make a cameo appearance at their second annual fundraising evening two Sundays ago at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, I was thrilled because it’s a cause near and dear to me. As I told you in my very first Gray Matters column, I became the parent to my parent to my dad, Harry, who passed away from Alzheimer’s. This led to the Golden Inn & Village. And this year, we’re working diligently on phase two – Harry’s House – for those who suffer from dementia or other illnesses requiring assisted living services.

At the show, my two friends and I enjoyed a rollicking evening of flat out belly laughs by the wit of four distinctly different comedians, including the highly talented Carol Leifer. She had a hilarious time wrapping her brain around the fact that she’s been a writer/comedian for 40 years!

But let’s get back to your brain. Want to know 10 ways to love it? This is courtesy of alz.org/cacentralcoast: Protect your head, buddy up (talk to each other), catch some zzz’s, fuel up right, take care of your mental health, hit the books, butt out (stop smoking), break a sweat (walk/exercise) take care of your heart, stump yourself (play cards/games). Visit their website or give them a call at 805-892-4259 for more information on how you can help yourself or a loved one.

In the meantime, this is my heartfelt urging: If you get the chance to laugh, grab it. Because as Will Rogers said, “We are all here for a spell. Get all the good laughs you can.” Because a good laugh heals all the hurts.

Until next time ... keep thinking the good thoughts.

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Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. Still to come is “Harry’s House” at GIV for those who need assisted living or memory care. Reach her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. Visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org for more information.

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