Okemos woman named Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter Advocate of the Year
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Okemos resident Bertha Bullen was named the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter 2021 Advocate of the Year during the Association’s statewide Advocacy Day.
Bullen was awarded the honor for her work as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, serving as the main point of contact with local government representatives, including U.S. Senator Gary Peters, State Senator Curtis Hertel, and State Representative Julie Brixie.
Bullen’s first exposure to Alzheimer’s disease was in 1982, when her mother-in-law was diagnosed with early-age onset Alzheimer’s. About the time she passed, Bullen’s grandmother was diagnosed and, about a year after her grandmother passed, her mother was diagnosed.
And it didn’t stop there. Between Bullen and her husband, Jim Kruse, 10 family members have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
One in nine people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Bullen knew they could not just stand by as Alzheimer’s and dementia continued to attack their families.
Bullen reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association in 2009 — and she’s been a volunteer and advocate ever since.
“It’s one thing to sit around and say, ‘I wish they’d find a cure’ or ‘I wish they’d find a good treatment,” Bullen said, “but it’s another to stand up and help make it happen.”
Bullen has attended the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum in Washington DC numerous times and has advocated for the expansion of Alzheimer’s research, the inclusion of care planning coverage in Medicare, and many other critical issues. She also was recognized in 2020 by the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) as a member of the 2020 Alzheimer’s Congressional Team (ACT) of the Year.
Additionally, Bullen has been heavily involved in her local Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, and she and Kruse have
participated in many research trials over the years, ranging from simple interviews to attempting to map the brain through MRI scans.
For Bullen, it’s all about hope.
“My mother, who served as a caregiver before she was diagnosed, always looked for a way to make things better and found a way to have hope, so I refuse to feel hopeless in the face of Alzheimer’s,” she said. “I advocate for better care, more research and more support for caregivers. Advocacy gives me hope for a better future.”
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