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The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's at UC San Diego


YMAA in DCWhile younger people aren't typically affected by Alzheimer's disease, many get involved through their family members, caregiving, volunteer work, education, and advocacy.

The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's (YMAA) is a student-run organization that helps integrate youth in Alzheimer's research, conducts outreach with patients, and pushes for policies that stress the support dementia caregivers need. The UC San Diego YMAA chapter is one of the largest in the country. This month we are happy to sit down with its president, Suyeun Choi, a neurobiology student at UC San Diego, and share more about her chapter's important work.

Susie Choi
"Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death and of the top 10, is the only one that cannot be slowed or cured. In order to improve this situation, the support of upcoming generations is needed to push for this crisis to be addressed," said Choi. "Even though the youth are not directly affected by this disease today, it can and will affect younger generations in the future, either medically or in dementia caregivers' lives."
Choi first learned about Alzheimer's Disease when she volunteered at UCLA Longevity Center during her senior year of high school. There, she came to realize the urgency of Alzheimer's as she saw the deteriorating power the disease has on an individual and their family. "As I was preparing to start university at UC San Diego, I found it an absolute necessity to take what I learned during the time I volunteered and bring it to a college campus where I can share the importance of Alzheimer's. Thus, during my freshman year, I founded and established the YMAA chapter at UCSD," said Choi.

"After having been involved with YMAA for four years, my own grandmother was then diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the end of 2021," said Choi. "As someone who has put their all into this movement, I almost felt like my family was safe from the disease. But Alzheimer's doesn't pick and choose. I now am one of the primary caregivers for my grandmother, driving back and forth from San Diego and LA County to provide care. Seeing my grandmother change from the disease and seeing my family sacrifice their work and life to care for my grandmother, I finally was able to grasp how devastating this disease truly is."
The YMAA's outreach is incredible, to say the least. Their student members attend the USAgainstAlzheimer's national summit in Washington, DC every year to hear from experts on how the nation plans to fight against the disease. Students have the opportunity to speak directly to policymakers to be the voice for caregivers and dementia patients across the US. At UC San Diego, the YMAA collaborates with researchers to allow access to neurodegenerative disease seminars, clinical meetings, and support groups for patients and caregivers. YMAA students also get many opportunities to speak with caregivers, interact with AD patients, and advocate for them, vocalizing their needs through this organization.
In addition, YMAA integrates students by hosting guest speakers, holding jeopardy nights where students can learn more about neuroscience and Alzheimer's, offering scholarships, providing opportunities for students to directly work with Alzheimer's patients, holding advocacy events, fundraising, and so much more.
Through the use of volunteering, advocacy, fundraising, and collaboration of so many different people who are different ages, YMAA is creating a community to help those subject to this disease today, and those who may face it in the future. Just like the saying, it takes a village.
Learn more about the UC San Diego YMAA chapter here.
Victoria Osnaya is a fourth-year student at UC San Diego, majoring in clinical psychology. She is a student assistant at the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging. Born and raised in San Diego, Victoria hopes to enter a career based in behavioral health, especially young adolescents, sparked by her experience in coaching high school students.