Former Prince George's County Executive Advocates for Alzheimer's Cure Because of His Wife - NBC4 Washington

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Former Prince George's County Executive Advocates for Alzheimer's Cure Because of His Wife

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    Maryland County Executive Raising Alzheimer's Awareness

    Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker is dedicating his time to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease because of his wife, Christa Baker. NBC4's Barbara Harrison spoke to the family about the toll the disease has had on the family. (Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019)

    Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker is dedicating his time to raise awareness about dementia and Alzheimer's disease because of his wife, Christa Baker.

    The couple started dating when they were both in law school.

    "Once we started dating, she was the most dominant force in my life," Rushern said. 

    They both worked as attorneys. She working on Capitol Hill, and he eventually served two terms as county executive for Prince George's County. They started a family and have three children.

    But now, Christa has Alzheimer's disease and has trouble speaking. Aja, one of Christa's daughters, recalls seeing changes in her mother's personality but couldn't figure out why she seemed "off her game."

    "At least for me, and for my sister and brother, it was kind of frustrating at first. 'Why aren't you doing everything like you normally are doing?'" Aja said. "We couldn't see what was really going on."

    At Rushern's last inauguration day during the prayer, Christa grabbed him and told him everything was going to be all right. 

    "She leaned over and put her head on my shoulder and grabbed my hand and let me know, one, that everything was going to be all right, and two, she was right there and understanding it all," he said.

    Rushern said from there, he decided not to hide that Christa had Alzheimer's disease. 

    "So many people who I would see daily in their county jobs came up to me and said, 'Thank you for coming out, Mr. Baker. Let me tell you about my story," he said.

    So, Rushern takes Christa everywhere, from church to other events. 

    "I was so glad the reception we got in the county," he said. "It's part of a whole movement we call dementia-friendly, and that's really about letting people with loved ones suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's and anyone else know that they can come to church, visit museums and do the things they normally would do."

    When Rushern left office, he said he didn't have immediate plans on what he was going to do, but he knew he wanted to partner with organizations working on eliminating Alzheimer's disease. 

    "That's what my wife would be doing, and in a much better way than I am," he said. "I'm just trying to take a little bit of her and work on this. It's so important."

    On Friday, Brain Ball 2019 in D.C. will help raise funds for the National Capital Alzheimer's Association's work for a cure. Tickets are available for purchase here.

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