PORTLAND, Maine — Tom O'Connor remembers the day he first noticed signs of dementia in his wife Deb.
"We were doing meals on wheels, and I was preparing meals, Deb and others were packing them for delivers, and she just couldn't grasp what was going on," O'Connor said.
That was Christmas 2009. By September 2010, she was diagnosed with dementia.
"It's a terrible thing to watch the person you love go away," he said.
Deb lost her battle with dementia in November of 2019.
O'Connor cherishes the memories he had with his beloved wife, like vacation in Europe and Alaska and celebrating the birth of their granddaughter. But he's not just sitting on the sidelines. He's supporting efforts toward finding a cure for the disease that took his wife by talking to lawmakers at the state and federal level and fundraising for the Alzheimer's Association.
He and dozens of other Alzheimer's advocates from across the country are heading to Washington, D.C. on Monday, something O'Connor did once before, just months before his wife died.
"I'm looking forward to doing it again. We need to find a cure for this disease," he said.
"Two bills that are of top priority are going to be introduced by Sen. [Susan] Collins," Jill Carney, director of public policy at the Alzheimer's Association Maine Chapter, said.
Carney will also be traveling to Washington to Lobby in favor of passing the two bills.
The National Alzheimer's Project Act extension would do a number of things, which include promoting healthy aging and risk reduction for Alzheimer's.
Second is the Alzheimer's Accountability Act, which would mandate scientists to submit budgets to congress, which Carney said would increase research funding.