Maria Shriver: Alzheimer's Awareness Is ‘Ultimate Women's Empowerment Issue'

Maria Shriver was in Boston Friday to talk about a disease that is not always top of mind for women, but she says it should be, and her mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s is a personal one.

Shriver watched the disease take a devastating toll on her late father’s mind. Robert Sargent Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003.

“And he was, as I’ve always said, the smartest human being I’d ever met,” Shriver said. “So to watch a brain like that go from functioning as this beautifully finely tuned instrument to not really being able to function at all is an incredible thing to witness.”

His story is the motivation for her non-profit, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. The organization is dedicated to raising money for women’s based research and raising awareness about the disease that does discriminate.

Of the 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, two-thirds are women. A woman in her 60s is twice as likely to Alzheimer’s as she is to get breast cancer. They are statistics Shriver is determined to get out to the public.

“This is the ultimate women’s empowerment issue because if you don’t have your mind you cannot feel empowered,” Shriver said.

Shriver is also focused on prevention, knowing Alzheimer’s can develop in the brain 20 years before a person becomes symptomatic. From a healthy diet and sleeping habit to meditation and brain-sharpening exercises, she says there are things a person can do.

The prevention techniques are highlighted in a coloring book Shriver authored for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers called “Color Your Mind.”

Shriver spoke at the Brain Health Fair at the Boston Convention Center and she may be back in Boston in June. Her non-profit is hosting a “Move For Minds” event at Equinox locations across the country including Boston. Shriver will visit the location where participants raise the most money for research.

You can find out more about the event and Shriver’s non-profit here.

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