Photo: Seth Rogen and wife Lauren Miller. Source: The Good Neighborhood.
Alzheimer's disease drags its victims into a nightmare of confusion, frustration, and often depression with no known long-term remedy. Still, it is a disease few young people talk or even think about. Seth Rogan, known for his roles in This is the End, Sausage Party, Neighbors and Pineapple Express, realized this problem while watching his mother-in-law Adele go through the disease, and it is one of the reasons he decided to fight it: “We [Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller] quickly found that no one our age was talking about Alzheimer’s. Lauren knew she couldn’t be the only one going through this, and we figured the young people who weren’t talking about it now would be dealing with it later” (Pulia).
Adele was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the young age of 55, and Rogen has been an unfortunate witness to her decline throughout the years he courted and then married his wife Lauren Miller.
Rogen says Adele has lost the ability to dress herself and walk through time, and now needs a wheelchair and the 24/7 care of her husband. Wanting to help anyway he could, Rogen moved his in-laws down the street from his house so he could better assist. Speaking on Adele’s changes, Rogen said, “It was a long process, but slowly, over years, caring for Adele became a 24/7 job for Lauren’s father. At first she was fine at home alone; eventually she needed a wheelchair and someone to feed her and clean her. Lauren and I started to realize that caring for Adele occupied 100 percent of her father’s life” (Today).
Speaking out through Adele’s story, Rogen and his wife put a face to the name of the devastating disease and started an organization to fight it called Hilarity for Charity.
The idea behind hilarity for charity
To counter Alzheimer’s and gain awareness among younger people, Rogen started Hilarity for Charity, an organization that fights the disease holistically by giving grants for in-home care for patients, and for giving money to research funding and advocacy.
Home Instead Senior Care network has partnered with the Hilarity for Charity organization to provide over 110,000 hours of care thus far. Details are on the charity’s website- including how to apply. The applications are reviewed on a quarterly basis, and the grants are given out for a year-long term. As the website explains, this seems to be the best way to support those already in the thicket of the disease as there is no known cure. However, at home service gives the option of staying home in a loving environment and gives the caregiver some ease from otherwise endless duties.
Not content with simply alleviating Alzheimer’s effects, Hilarity for Charity takes its actions a step further to science, society, and congress to push to know the cause and cure. Seth Rogen personally petitioned congress to take the disease more seriously, but did not have a breakthrough. In December 2014 Today reported, “Rogen appeared before a Congressional panel early this year, urging the government to prioritize funding for Alzheimer’s…he blasted the politicians when only two of the 16 invited senators showed up for or stayed for the entire speech” (Today).
In more recent times, politicians seem to be catching up to the issue. The Alzheimer’s Association reported that Congress allocated an unprecedented amount of money between 2016 and 2017 for research, “Today [May 1, 2017] the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) are celebrating the announcement that Congress will pass a $400 million increase for Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the FY2017 budget. This marks the second consecutive year that Congress has approved a historic funding increase for Alzheimer’s” (Cilmi).
The Alzheimer’s Association went on to say that the disease is “the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured, and leading independent researchers have determined it has become the nation’s most expensive disease” (Cilmi).
Hilarity for Charity also raises awareness by putting on a variety show with many different communities who want to get involved. This variety show has been very successful, and it has featured performances by Kevin Hart, Paul Rudd, Samuel L. Jackson, The Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus, James Franco, and many more! This annual event has raised over $6 million altogether, and another one is currently being planned for Spring 2018.
Plans for the future and how to help in the present
The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s has set a date to treat and prevent the disease: 2025. Rogen hopes one day Hilarity for Charity will no longer need to exist: “Our ultimate goal is to make Hilarity for Charity obsolete. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to do this anymore because Alzheimer’s was cured or became manageable? In an ideal world, the disease would get the funding it deserves from the government, it wouldn’t carry a stigma of shame, and, in general, receiving affordable care in this country would be easier. Until these things happen, I hope the support we provide is making a difference and getting us closer to a cure” (Pulia).
While the world waits, there is much to do in the meantime for people of all ages and skill sets. People with the disease require constant care and support either at home if manageable or in a nursing home. Helping out a family of a loved one suffering from the disease, either with time spent around the house caring for the patient or doing something the caretaker cannot, like running errands, or with money for the expensive disease, is perhaps one of the biggest blessings humanity can bestow at the present. If not helping someone personally, there are countless other related needs for people to fill such as scientists to do research in the field, advocates to raise awareness among the social media realms, and politicians and lobbyists to continue bringing the issue to the government’s attention.
For more ideas, visit Hilarity for Charity and see their page about how to get involved.
Today. “Seth Rogen on His 'Family Love Story' and the Ravages of Alzheimer's.” TODAY.com, TODAY, 11 Dec. 2014, www.today.com/health/seth-rogen-his-family-love-story-ravages-alzheimers-1D80354214.
Pulia, Shalayne. “Seth Rogen Raises Awareness For Alzheimer's Disease.” InStyle.com, 1 Nov. 2017, www.instyle.com/celebrity/seth-rogen-founds-hilarity-for-charity.
Cilmi, Laura. “Congress Delivers Historic Alzheimer's Research Funding Increase for Second Consecutive Year.” www.alz.org/documents_custom/historic-funding-2017.pdf.
Hilarity for Charity: https://hilarityforcharity.org