Why Alzheimer’s Awareness Matters to Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen
Advocacy Why is it important for this celebrity couple to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease? The incurable disease has touched Lauren’s family, including her grandparents and her mother.
Actress Lauren Miller Rogen knows too well how devastating Alzheimer’s disease can be. Her grandfather died from it when she was 12. Her grandmother also died from it when Miller Rogen was 18, and now the actress’ mother has the incurable disease.
Raising Alzheimer’s awareness is a priority for Miller Rogen and her husband, actor Seth Rogen. In 2011, they founded Hilarity for Charity™ (HFC), a charitable organization to educate the millennial generation about Alzheimer’s disease. Through their HFC Variety Show, featuring performances by celebrities like Kevin Hart and Mindy Kaling, they’ve raised nearly $1 million for Alzheimer’s research.
Mediaplanet (MP): Lauren, tell us about your mother.
Lauren Miller Rogen (L.M.R.): My mom was diagnosed with early onset when I was 25 and she was 55. So it became this very natural, unfortunate part of my life. When we decided to take action about something, this was it. I was very passionate about it and Seth, being a loving husband, became passionate along side of me.
MP: Seth, you’re known for comedy and movies. How has your celebrity brought attention to Alzheimer’s disease?
"The myth is that becoming forgetful is a natural part of aging and it’s not. Getting dementia, getting Alzheimer’s, is not a natural part of getting older."
Seth Rogen (S.R.): Slowly I was being exposed to this thing that was terrible and we realized there was no one my age talking about it. I was in a position to do so, so we did. Talking about it is at least the first step.
MP: How is your mother doing now Lauren?
L.M.R.: She doesn’t know that we have any relationship. I can tell her over and over again, she wouldn’t get it. She would never know. At this point, she can’t respond; she’s just there. I think a lot of people do not understand what that truly means to lose your memory.
MP: What are the misconceptions about Alzheimer’s?
S.R: You kind of assume it’s how it is in movies and TV shows from the 80’s, which is someone’s forgetful and everyone laughs and something cute happens and they don’t know where their keys are and everyone laughs. That’s not at all what it was like.
I think the overall tone of it is much darker than I understood. I didn’t understand that there was no treatment and that there’s no cure. There’s literally nothing you can do to even slow it in any way.
L.M.R.: The myth is that becoming forgetful is a natural part of aging and it’s not. Getting dementia, getting Alzheimer’s, is not a natural part of getting older.
It still has this stigma that it’s only about old people and I know personally, it’s not only about old people. It affects my life every single day since I was young.
MP: What’s needed to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s?
L.M.R.: The government needs to step up. Currently, the government spends around $650 million dollars on Alzheimer’s and there are currently over 5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease. The government spends $5 billion for cancer and $3 billion on HIV/AIDS.
By 2025, it’s estimated over 7 million people will have Alzheimer’s unless something happens. There’s going to be 13.8 million people with Alzheimer’s in 2050. I’m going to be 70 years old in 2050. I don’t want to be living in a world where 13.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. That’s terrifying.
Unless the American government steps up and treats Alzheimer’s the way they treat other major catastrophes in this country, nothing’s going to happen.
S.R.: Part of the problem is the government is reactionary to the people. Politicians want to get elected and stay in power. If it’s not an issue that people care about, articulate about or are vocal about, then it’s not an issue they care about.
People are not vocal enough. They need to be clear about what they’re experiencing but, again, a lot of these people don’t have the means to do that. They don’t have any help or respite because the government doesn’t help them. It’s kind of a vicious circle.
MP: What advice do you have for caregivers?
L.M.R.: Reach out and connect and share your story. You’ll feel more powerful in a powerless situation.
Rogen gives his opening statement before a Senate hearing on Alzheimer's Research. From C-SPAN3 coverage.