Advocates travel to Florida’s capitol to fight for Alzheimer’s funding and education

By Paula Machado, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 7:11 PM EST

A group of Florida advocates traveled to the state capitol Tuesday to try and make Alzheimer’s disease one of the Florida’s top health priorities.

  • Alzheimer's advocates travel to Fla. capitol to talk to legislators
  • Advocates spoke about struggles of families dealing w/ disease
  • Hispanic community 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's

Joandry Marie Mendez is one of those advocates who traveled to the state capitol. On her dad’s side, she already lost a grandparent to Alzheimer’s and on her mom’s side, both grandparents have been diagnosed with the disease.

“I have this gene on both sides, like this is going to happen,” Mendez said about preparing for the future.

Mendez was crowned Mrs. Central Florida 2018 a few months ago and wants to use her influence to stand up for those families and patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

She said she knows what it’s like to have a family member slowly losing their memory.

"It hurts not that my grandmother doesn't recognize me, it’s just, I miss hearing my name coming out of her mouth. But like I said, she will always give us her blessing," Mendez said.

Mendez is joining around 150 advocates from all over Florida at the state’s capitol to speak with legislators about the needs and struggles of families dealing with the disease.

"A lot of the needs have to do with education and funding for care,” said Damaris Melendez, program associate director of Alzheimer’s Association.

Education is still a huge need within the Hispanic community, who according to research by the Alzheimer's association are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease.

"Because in the Hispanic families, you see high risk of heart disease and diabetes and then the other one is we tend to live longer than our counterparts, so that puts us at a higher risk,” Melendez said.

It’s another reason Mendez traveled to Tallahassee.

"I know if I don't do something now or if I don't start getting this going, or if I don't start motivating people or influencing people, people might just put it on the back burner like this is something that doesn't exist, and no, this is here. This is very much present,” Mendez explained.