Boston Globe (January 11, 2014): Mayor Walsh Takes Steps to Aid Those Hit by Alzheimer’s

Publication Date: 
Sat, 01/11/2014

Martin J. Walsh walked in the door to visit his grandmother at her Irish farmhouse, and she did not know who he was.

Mary Ann O’Malley did not remember her own daughter, either. By the time she had reached her early 80s, O’Malley had forgotten much of what she once knew intimately.

“We would walk in the house,” Walsh said in an interview, “and she would ask who we were.”

Memories of his late grandmother in the stranglehold of Alzheimer’s disease and of family members exhausted by caring for her, have inspired Boston’s new mayor to make improving services for people with Alzheimer’s and their families among his earliest missions in office.

While Walsh’s struggles with cancer as a child and alcoholism as a young man became well known during the campaign, his family’s history with Alzheimer’s was news to many, who learned of it during his inaugural speech Monday.

“For me, this is personal,” Walsh said in his inaugural address. “My grandmother and our family suffered from this disease.”

Walsh said in the speech that he would release a “blueprint for action for the city, to raise awareness through education and outreach, and to connect those with the disease to the resources they need.”