How can we honor the stories of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease? That’s the question at the heart of the Humans of Dementia Storytelling Contest, which puts a spotlight on the individual impact of a disease that affects an estimated 6 million Americans today.
The 2021 contest, co-sponsored by AARP in partnership with the national Alzheimer’s nonprofit Hilarity for Charity (HFC), invited high school and college students from across the country to submit essays and photographs that shed light on the experiences of loved ones who are living with, or have died from, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. HFC was founded in 2012 by actor Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and support prevention and research efforts related to the disease.
“The winning entries show the power of relationships between generations,” says Sarah Lenz Lock, senior vice president for policy at AARP. “Great journalism can keep the essence of a person’s lifetime shining brightly for others to see, even when that person’s own memories begin to fade.”
Read excerpts from this year’s first-place essays and photographs below, or visit the HFC website for more stories.
Sarah Elizabeth Adler joined aarp.org as a writer in 2018. Her pieces on science, art and culture have appeared in The Atlantic, where she was previously an editorial fellow, California magazine and elsewhere.