Ann Romney Lends Her Voice to Alzheimer’s Awareness
Ann Romney is intimately familiar with the world of neurologic disease. A multiple sclerosis survivor herself, Romney, 67, is also behind the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Still, even she was surprised to learn that roughly two-thirds of the seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s are women, and that women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer.
“There was this huge awareness with breast cancer,” Romney says. “I think it’s now time for there to be another awareness program, that Alzheimer’s is really a silent threat to women.”
Romney is working with Maria Shriver—herself a vocal Alzheimer’s activist—and Equinox to raise that awareness. Step one is Move for Minds, an event that will bring together leaders in fitness, medicine, and nutrition to raise money and awareness for women’s Alzheimer’s. Six Equinox locations nationwide will host Move for Minds events on Saturday (details below), and Romney will emcee the event in Boston.
“We want to coordinate and accelerate and increase the awareness of some of these devastating brain diseases,” Romney says.
Indeed, Romney knows all too well how neurologic disease can affect its victims, affording her an empathy that she says guides her work. “I have that perspective, of having that panicked feeling and then moving to the grateful phase,” she says. “Grateful that people have been doing this research, and grateful for the groundbreaking work that’s being done.”
If all goes well, Romney’s eponymous research institute will be behind some of that groundbreaking work. The center recently released a paper examining the connection between gut bacteria and MS, and it’s also studying how Alzheimer’s affects male and female brains differently. It’s research that Romney says can’t come soon enough.
“It’s kind of shocking that that question has never been asked,” Romney says. “Why do women have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s, and MS, and some of these autoimmune diseases?”
Romney will host Move for Minds from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at the 4 Avery Street Equinox. The event includes a yoga class, a cardio kickboxing class, a health marketplace, and a variety of health experts. All participants must raise at least $250, which will go toward organizations that partner with the Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge. For information and registration, visit crowdrise.com.