Connecting to Purpose: Remembering Mom During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

By Karen Hagens, VP Global Corporate Communications,

The last time I saw my mom alive, I helped her eat dinner while my son colored her a picture. We were outside, due to Covid-19 restrictions. We were lucky to finally see her in person after almost a year of daily FaceTime videos, and window visits. Of course, none of us knew it would be our last visit. She died on April 3, 2021.

My mom was one of the six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, this number is projected to more than double to nearly 13 million by 2050. To those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, death isn’t the enemy in the end. It’s the decline, whether fast or slow, and the fading away of your loved one before your very eyes that eats away at your soul. Alzheimer’s is the cruelest of diseases.

It’s for people like my mom that I do what I do. I am not a scientist. I will never find the cure for Alzheimer’s. But, as a communicator, I chose to specialize in healthcare communications almost 20 years ago over other industries like fashion, travel, or manufacturing, so that I could contribute in some small way to the pursuit of science. I recently joined Worldwide Clinical Trials, where I surround myself with front-line scientific and therapeutic experts who run clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, oncologic and rare diseases, and so many other indications affecting patients and their loved ones around the globe. Worldwide has a 40-year track record of clinical trial excellence, and we aren’t giving up. I’m incredibly inspired by the drive and commitment of my colleagues.

When I think of my mom, I often recall a beautiful sunny day in Raleigh, NC, with the bluest of skies and without a cloud in sight. I can hear her voice saying poignantly, “Look at that sky, Karen Ann. Have you ever seen a sky so blue? Isn’t it incredible? I don’t have many of these kinds of days left. Promise me, you’ll make each of your days count.”

I do my best to follow her advice and try to make my days “count.” I believe that what we do as individuals, and as an industry, matters. Our work may not have helped my mom, but I hope one day our collective efforts will help someone else’s.

September is Alzheimer’s awareness month. If you’d like to learn more about Alzheimer’s or how you can help, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association.

And if you’re interested in learning more about Worldwide, the work we do and the passion with which we do it, visit our jobs page.

Connect with me directly on LinkedIn.