Have you watched Seth Rogen’s Hilarity For Charity Netflix special yet? It was released last week. I’ve now seen it twice. I don’t usually watch things twice, but I watched it on my own, and then walked in on my partner while he was watching it, so I watched it all over again. I laughed all over again.
About Hilarity For Charity
Hilarity for Charity® (HFC) is a nonprofit movement, led by Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen, dedicated to raising awareness, inspiring change, and accelerating progress in Alzheimer’s care, research, and support through the engagement of millennials.
I’ve been aware of it for year, probably since its inaugural year, 2012. Back then I spent more time on Twitter and I’ve been following Hilar4Charity on Twitter since the beginning. As far as awareness campaigns go, I see few for Alzheimer’s disease. As someone who is particularly interested brain health, Alzheimer’s is of interest. It affects so many people (see facts below). I remember when Seth spoke to a U.S. Senate subcommittee about Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014. You can read about it on NPR or watch it on YouTube.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other crucial mental functions. It mostly hits older adults, though Lauren’s mom was 55 when she was diagnosed, and in her early 50s when the Lauren noticed the symptoms.
About Alzheimer’s disease
According to Alzheimer Society of Canada, the disease was named after the doctor who first discovered it, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, in 1906. He described the two hallmarks of the disease: “plaques,” which are numerous tiny, dense deposits scattered throughout the brain that become toxic to brain cells at excessive levels, and “tangles,” which interfere with vital processes, eventually choking off the living cells. When brain cells degenerate and die, the brain markedly shrinks in some regions. That’s what’s going on in the brain.
About the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
According to Alzheimer Society of Canada (which I’ll abbreviate below to AlzCanada, their Twitter handle), it has been estimated that up to half the cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide may be the result of seven key modifiable risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low education, and physical inactivity.
Note that many of the Canadian statistics I’ve noted below refer to dementia. AlzCanada, Stats Canada and other refer to dementia more often. Dementia refers to a set of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. U.S. numbers are from the HFC website.
- More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- 564,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia (remember, we have a larger land mass, but smaller population than the U.S.).
- 1.1 million Canadians are aﬀected directly or indirectly by the disease.
- Another American develops Alzheimer’s disease every 66 seconds.
- Annually, there are approximately 76,000 new cases of dementia diagnosed in Canada. This represents an incidence of 14.3 new cases per 1,000 in the senior population, 65 years and older. 15.8 new cases per 1,000 are in women, 12.4 new cases per 1,000 are in men.
(Source: StatsCan, which got their data from the Public Health Agency of Canada)
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
- By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease and an American will develop the disease every 33 seconds. It’s a costly disease.
- By 2031, 937,000 Canadians will be living with dementia.
- According to AlzCanada: In Canada, 65% of those diagnosed with dementia over the age of 65 are women (StatsCan says two-thirds, or 71%, excluding Saskatchewan).
Funds raised through Hilarity For Charity are directed to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care, increase support groups nationwide, and fund cutting edge research. Since it began, Hilarity for Charity has raised more than $7 million to support these efforts.
The Netflix special
Disclaimer: It might not be for you if dick jokes offend you.
“Now, to be honest, this stuff is like a giant massive bummer, and this is a comedy show. And for a really long time, we had a hard time reconciling those things.” -Seth Rogen
Filmed in front of a live audience in March, it’s now got a worldwide audience. A running joke in the show is about making the special appear under every category on Netflix to read as many people as people.
I found it hilarious. It had the Muppets. Sacha Baron Cohen. Chelsea Peretti, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Kumail Nanjiani, Craig Robinson, Sarah Silverman and others. Silverman made me laugh my ass off, both times I watched.
During the heavy, educational part of the show, Seth and Lauren told the audience about her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Action and advocacy often begin when we’re close to an issue, and when we see someone we love struggling. I’d read about HFC’s origins but hearing it again and watching the family videos was heartwarming. I may have cried. I may have nodded when Seth stated that for a long time they didn’t want to talk about how sad it all is but they realized they had to because a lot of people are experiencing sadness and shame about it. I’m a huge advocate for ending stigmas, especially when it involves brain health.
At the end of that heartwarming segment, Lauren urges people to donate, as much or as little as they can. “Even five dollars, ten dollars, will help.” You can donate to Hilarity For Charity here or donate to your local Alzheimer’s charity.
Watch the special on Netflix, donate your piggy bank. Help out.