Katie Denmark is a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter. Her work in public policy as an Alzheimer’s advocate has been so important to our Chapter and in Washington State! We interviewed Katie about her work as a volunteer and what motivates her.
Tell us about yourself
I live in the Seattle area with my husband and two sons. I practiced law before having children and now focus on public policy and advance care and legal planning issues as they relate to the Alzheimer’s and dementia community.
What is your connection to the Alzheimer’s Association and how did you first get involved?
My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and I witnessed firsthand how the disease affects those with Alzheimer’s as well as their families and loved ones. Almost ten years ago, I contacted the Alzheimer’s Association to become a volunteer, and have been involved as a public policy and advocacy volunteer ever since.
Tell us about some of the things you’ve done as a volunteer/advocate.
I initially started by helping organize and execute the Chapter’s statewide Public Policy Town Hall events, and have since become an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Congressional Team in the 8th District and a member of the Dementia Action Collaborative.
Tell us about your involvement with the Dementia Action Collaborative and their efforts to implement the Alzheimer’s State Plan.
As a member of the DAC’s advance care and legal planning team, I have worked with others to create advance care and legal planning content and tools for people with dementia and their caregivers and loved ones. It has been a years-long process and we are looking forward to making the toolkit we have been developing available to the public very soon! This is an important, but one small piece, of the critical work the DAC is doing to implement the Alzheimer’s State Plan.
Why is legal planning so important for people facing Alzheimer’s?
Advance care and legal planning is important for people facing Alzheimer’s because it gives them the opportunity to explore and clearly express their desires and preferences regarding their own care, finances and end-of-life wishes while they are still able to do so. It can also relieve their family members and loved ones from the enormous pressure of having to make these decisions for them once they are unable to do so during what can already be an uncertain and overwhelming time.
Why is advocacy so important for individuals/families affected by dementia?
During a time in which it feels like there are many community and world issues that need urgent attention, I would encourage others to continue their advocacy efforts in support of the dementia community. The challenges that continue to impact this community need attention more than ever. Legislative support of and focus on this cause only continues to grow, all due to the tireless efforts of those in the advocacy community. Because many people with dementia no longer have the ability to advocate on their own behalf, actively advocating for them and their caregivers is so critically important.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your experience?
I have been so inspired by the focus and optimism of this community. My work with the Alzheimer’s Association has allowed me to learn from and get to know so many incredible people — people in various stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, physicians and healthcare workers, caregivers, social workers, members of Congress and other elected officials, researchers, other legal professionals, state agency professionals, and many more. Their knowledge and commitment to this cause inspires me to learn more and do more for this community every day.
Are you interested in becoming a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? Go to alzwa.org/volunteer to learn about opportunities for you!