Renny Merritt, 1953-2019
I first met Renny and Janet at a fundraiser that our mutual friend, Kristin Canty, held for Documenting Hope in Boston. I remember being struck by what a vivacious duo they were–smiling, finishing each other’s sentences, and both the type who really spoke from the heart. I also recall them offering up their college age son to help us haul boxes up and down the elevator as we set up the event. I didn’t even know these people and here they were diving right in, figuring out ways to help. I learned that Janet and Renny had raised four boys in a household that Janet likes to call “industrial strength” (I relate!) and that they had worked to recover their family from a variety of health issues, including significant sensory processing, learning challenges, Lyme disease, anxiety, and mold-related sickness. Janet and Renny, the most dedicated of parents, never gave up and worked on getting to the root causes of these health challenges.
It was that first day I met them, at the fundraiser, that Janet and Renny decided to become supporters of our work. They stepped up and asked “how can we help?” After that initial meeting, Janet joined our team and has been helping support our work in many ways ever since.
Renny was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s at age 63. And like the “new childhood epidemics” of autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety and more, Alzheimer’s is an escalating epidemic in this country. Right now about 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and it is expected that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer’s. Renny’s form of the disease—young onset–is less common and is estimated to affect about 1% of those who develop Alzheimer’s.
As I have been talking to Janet throughout Renny’s sickness, she has been teaching me about the wonderful work of Dr. Dale Bredesen, a physician and researcher who has been working on approaches to prevent and even reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Bredesen has had many great successes treating Alzheimer’s and slowing or halting its course.
In honor of Renny, Janet and their journey with Alzheimer’s, I encourage you to learn more about Alzheimer’s and the hope and possibility for your loved ones impacted by this complex and multifactorial condition. You can read more about Dr. Dale Bredesen’s work here: https://www.apollohealthco.com/
Rest in peace, Renny.
Executive Director, Epidemic Answers and the Documenting Hope Project