By announcing that she has dementia, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor joined a growing number of public figures who have chosen to share their dementia diagnosis. Dementia of course, can strike anyone at anytime, regardless of fame or fortune. What is relatively new however, is public figures willing to disclose their diagnosis.
According to a recent New York times article, “Dementia Is Getting Some Very Public Faces”, the breakthrough came in 1994 when Ronald and Nancy Reagan released a handwritten letter disclosing his Alzheimer’s disease. “In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition,” they wrote. Other public figures such as musician Glen Campbell and Hall of Fame women’s college basketball coach Pat Summit reached similar decisions in announcing their Alzheimer’s diagnoses. More