Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About myALZteam

What Sandra Day O'Connor's Alzheimer's Diagnosis Does for the Rest of Us

Posted on April 23, 2019

When retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor revealed she had dementia in late 2018, a wave of empathy and validation washed over the Alzheimer's community. “Wow. Even her, too?”

Three things happen for us and the people we care for when a public figure opens up about a diagnosis and shares the fact of their chronic illness with us.

First, they help to destigmatize the disease. The condition becomes more visible and relatable. Suddenly, we see our friends and family changing their attitudes toward Alzheimer's disease, and even toward us as caregivers.

Second, we feel more hopeful and inspired in our own life. Knowing that a celebrity and their loved ones are facing the same day-to-day struggles we do, all while under the glare of notoriety, we are more endeared toward them. We especially feel a connection when they use their voice to bring visibility to Alzheimer's.

Finally, we feel empowered by the will of public figures to step forward and take control of the narrative about their condition under intense media scrutiny. When they show the world what it means to live with Alzheimer's, they offer a roadmap and inspire confidence for how we might do the same.

Whether famous or not, the public acknowledgment of a disease is a brave act in the face of the stigma of chronic disease. As Alzheimer's disease awareness spreads, acceptance soon follows.

Is there a notable person who has inspired you? How do you feel about celebrities discussing their condition? Share in the comments below or post on myALZteam.

A myALZteam Member said:

Interesting that you mentioned a doll. I have already told my daughter that when or if I go to a nursing home or care facility that I want her to give me a doll. I have been a "doll person" since my… read more

posted 5 days ago

hug (3)

Recent articles

July 15, 2021 Update:I wrote this article about two-and-a-half years ago, but last month I truly...

My Perspective: Losing My Marital Relationship to Dementia

July 15, 2021 Update:I wrote this article about two-and-a-half years ago, but last month I truly...
To determine how you can reduce your medical expenses, myALZteam sat down with Susan Null of...

How To Reduce Medical Bills: Top Financial Expert Shares 10 Tips

To determine how you can reduce your medical expenses, myALZteam sat down with Susan Null of...
Tony Bennett is the most recent celebrity to publicly announce that he was diagnosed with...

What Tony Bennett’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Does for the Rest of Us

Tony Bennett is the most recent celebrity to publicly announce that he was diagnosed with...
“Caregiving is a marathon, it’s not a sprint … so changing the focus to yourself is necessary to...

Caregiving and Disease Management for Alzheimer’s Disease

“Caregiving is a marathon, it’s not a sprint … so changing the focus to yourself is necessary to...
To sign up for the next live Q&A and watch past Q&A videos, go to (and bookmark)...

myALZteam Live Events Hub

To sign up for the next live Q&A and watch past Q&A videos, go to (and bookmark)...
As we grow older, distinguishing between what is a sign of normal aging and what may be a sign...

Mild Cognitive Impairment Symptoms vs. Normal Aging

As we grow older, distinguishing between what is a sign of normal aging and what may be a sign...
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a stage between normal age-related cognitive decline and...

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a stage between normal age-related cognitive decline and...
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) isn’t just ordinary forgetfulness. Mild cognitive impairment...

Tips for Improving Memory Health

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) isn’t just ordinary forgetfulness. Mild cognitive impairment...
Early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is important, because some cases can progress...

Mild Cognitive Impairment: The Benefits of Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is important, because some cases can progress...
Thousands of members of myALZteam connect with one another and read each other's stories to gain...

Four Books About Alzheimer's disease You Should Read

Thousands of members of myALZteam connect with one another and read each other's stories to gain...
myALZteam My Alzheimer's Team

Two Ways to Get Started with myALZteam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with Alzheimer's. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about Alzheimer's sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
myALZteam My Alzheimer's Team

Thank you for signing up.

close