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6 famous people who had Alzheimer’s disease

November is National Alzheimer’s Month and REAL Services is northern Indiana’s resource for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers. Find a REAL Services office near you today.

By: REAL Services + Home Comfort Experts

More than 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and by the time you finish reading this sentence, another person will have been diagnosed.

The disease impacts people of every background. Here are six famous people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Rita Hayworth

The American actress was so captivating in the 1940s that she earned the nickname “The Love Goddess.” In the 1960s, Hayworth was in her 40s when she began struggling to remember lines. Doctors initially suspected her heavy drinking, but her health worsened over the years. She eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1979.

Hayworth became the face of Alzheimer’s when her diagnosis was made public in 1981. Though she died in 1987, she is still often credited as one of the first people to help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

Perry Como

The Emmy award-winning singer-turned-actor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease only two years before his death in 2001 at 88 years old. He never went public with the disease, but his children confirmed it when he passed.

Glen Campbell

This country singer was 75 years old when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He went on a farewell tour of more than 150 shows and recorded two albums. One of the albums, Ghost on the Canvas, featured a moving song about Alzheimer’s disease called “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”

Campbell was very public with his experience with the disease. In 2014, the documentary “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” showed Campbell and his wife Kim lobbying Congress to fund Alzheimer’s research. He was 81 when he died in 2017.

Rosa Parks

Most people know Rosa Parks for being a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but few know that she too dealt with Alzheimer’s. Parks was a caretaker for her mother, who died of Alzheimer’s in the 1970s.

Parks recieved numerous awards over the years for her courage and work during the Civil Rights Movement, but often stayed out of the spotlight. In 1999, it was revealed publicly that Parks had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during the proceedings of a lawsuit filed on her behalf. Parks died in 2005. She was 92 years old.

Gene Wilder

Wilder never publicly came out about his struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. After his death in 2016, Wilder’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a statement that Wilder was concerned about worrying young children who were fans of his movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In January, Wilder’s wife Karen wrote a poignent essay for ABC News about their experience with Alzheimer’s. “We still managed to have some good times and to laugh, even at the ravages of the disease that was killing him,” she wrote. “Another time, after struggling for twenty minutes trying to pull himself up, he looked out as if he was addressing the audience at the Belasco Theater, a place he knew well, and said in his best Gene Wilder voice, ‘Just a minute folks. I’ll be right back.'”

Wilder was 83 when he died.

Ronald Reagan

The former President of the United States is perhaps the most well-known person with Alzheimer’s disease. Reagan was 84 when he was diagnosed in 1994. He and his wife Nancy announced it almost immediately in an effort to raise awareness of the disease.

The Reagans launched the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute and raised millions of dollars for Alzheimer’s research over the years. Reagan maintained active over the years as his health faded. In 2004, Reagan died of pneumonia complicated by Alzheiemer’s disease.

REAL Services is the only organization helping local people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families with their day-to-day needs. Do you need help? Call REAL Services at 574-233-8205. REAL Services & Home Comfort Experts are All In For Alzheimer’s.


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