Today marks the start of National Alzheimer's Awareness month. Here, Seth Rogen opens up about why he founded his Alzheimer's organization Hilarity for Charity.
Less than a year after my now wife [actress Lauren Miller Rogen] and I started dating, her mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at age 55. Every time I visit my mother-in-law, I'm shocked that what I'm seeing is the result of this disease. Alzheimer's is brutal. I mean, it's associated with losing your memory, but you don't just forget who people are; you also forget how to talk, how to eat, how to do everything. That's hard to wrap your head around until you actually see it.
VIDEO: Seth Rogen's Fight Against Alzheimer's
We quickly found that no one our age was talking about Alzheimer's. Lauren knew she couldn't be the only one going through this, and we figured the young people who weren't talking about it now would be dealing with it later. So we, as millennials (technically, by a year, maybe), decided to dedicate our lives to help find a cure for this disease.
Snoop Dogg and Rogen at the Hilarity for Charity's 2016 Halloween Variety Show
A friend suggested that we put on a variety show with music and comedy and then give the proceeds to an Alzheimer's charity. In 2012 we founded Hilarity for Charity, and it slowly grew into something much bigger than we ever thought it would. In the past two years we've given more than 200,000 hours of free in-home care, which is the only thing that made our own situation with Lauren's mom remotely livable. At this point there is no real treatment for Alzheimer's, but in-home care is a tangible way to at least improve people's lives.
James Franco and Miley Cyrus at the 2015 Bar Mitzvah Variety Show
It's been nice to see my wife take control emotionally of a situation that was not very controllable. I think the most impressive thing she does is just talk about it. There's a lot of shame associated with having Alzheimer's. Some people don't want anyone to know. But it's good to acknowledge it. Now Lauren doesn't feel so helpless because we're taking action to make things better for those afflicted.
Our ultimate goal is to make Hilarity for Charity obsolete. Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to do this anymore because Alzheimer's was cured or became manageable? In an ideal world, the disease would get the funding it deserves from the government, it wouldn't carry a stigma of shame, and, in general, receiving affordable care in this country would be easier. Until these things happen, I hope the support we provide is making a difference and getting us closer to a cure.
As told to Shalayne Pulia.
Walk the Moon's Nicholas Petricca and Rogen at the 2016 Halloween Variety Show
Hilarity for Charity's next variety show will be available to stream on Netflix this winter. Visit hilarityforcharity.org and donate to help fund Alzheimer's care for families, increase awareness, and support cutting-edge research.