8 Famous People You Didn't Know Had Alzheimer's

golden girls
NBC

Ronald Reagan, Norman Rockwell... to name a few.

8 Famous People You Didn't Know Had Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a bitch of a disease. Yes, I said it. But it affects millions of America every year, even famous people. What possessed me to write this article, besides kicking off our health initiative consisted of a few things.

First, I love old people. I don't mean that in a sarcastic way but I really do. Old is a relative term, but in this example I will say anyone over the age of 55. I'm sorry if this is offensive but I'm about to compliment you so listen up. I gravitate to them at dinner parties, strike up conversations with them in public places, and generally prefer talking to the over fifty crowds. I find they are easier and more interesting to talk to than people my age. They provide unsolicited advice that I find charming, even if it's offensive (an example from this weekend: you're twenty-seven and not married yet!) and I can rile them up a little, too.

Secondly, I am one of many Americans who have witnessed loved ones affected by neurological diseases. So, in finding public figures who lived with the same issues, it gives me hope and inspiration that my loved ones can live a happy life even with Alzheimer's.

And lastly, we live in a society where celebrities are adored. I disagree with that sentiment in many ways, but the eight famous people I've included in this list are all inspirational people. Regardless of politics, gender, and race, they have all contributed to American society in fantastic ways, and for that, they deserve praise.

So without further ado, here are eight famous people you didn't know had Alzheimer's disease. Let them remind you to live life fully, love those around you, and kick ass when the odds are stacked against you.

1. Ronald Reagan

The 40th President of the United States was diagnosed with Alzheimer's after his presidency, but that didn't stop him from being vocal about his diagnosis. He penned a letter to the American people highlighting his diagnosis and the importance of him sharing this information publicly. By doing so, he helped spread awareness to the American people.

2. Rita Hayworth

American actress Rita Hayworth being diagnosed with Alzheimer's led to a public discussion about the disease. Her family members struggled with her deterioration mainly because she was misdiagnosed, first, citing alcoholism for her problems. Once she was diagnosed, the general public was informed about the disease and raised awareness and funds for research.

3. Norman Rockwell

The author and painter battled with the disease, but remained hush hush about it. His work is unforgettable and his struggle with the disease should not go unnoticed.

4. Estelle Getty

Estelle Getty, best known for her role as the sassy matriarch, Sophia on Golden Girls publicly battled Alzheimer's. In the video above, her costars describe seeing her battle the heartbreaking disease. By being open and honest, she served as an inspiration to those battling Alzheimer's and eventually, dementia.

5. Rosa Parks

The Mother of the Freedom of the Civil Rights movement accomplished a lot in her 92 years of life. The icon went on to fight for racial equality and justice. Later in life, she was diagnosed and died from Alzheimer's disease.

6. Etta James

The extremely talented singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008 and would eventually die from the disease. Her son was vocal about her struggle, sharing that she was combative, a common trait in those battling the neurological disease.

7. Sugar Ray Robinson

Professional boxer Sugar Ray Robinson died from Alzheimer's disease at the young age of 67. But his death is not forgotten, as it proves there is a lot more research to be done to stop this terrible disease.

8. James "Jimmy" Stewart

Jimmy Stewart was a movie star if there ever was one. After completing a career in the military he went on to star in award winning movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Philadelphia Story. He was beloved by all and his death is another causality from Alzheimer's disease.

Let's Keep the Conversation Going...

Did we leave an important figure off this list? Do you know someone battling Alzheimer's?

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