Inspired by the realization that he was one of the few millennials at a national Alzheimer’s summit, Indian American Nihal Satyadev in 2015 founded the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s.
Satyadev, who now studies at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., founded the association when he was a 20-year-old student at UCLA.
“The gap was surreal,” Satyadev, the co-founder and chief executive of YMAA, said of the age gap at the Alzheimer’s summit. “I was hearing about all these horrifying facts that were going to affect me and my peers more than any other generation. The healthcare system, the amount of rooms available in senior homes, and the burden it will weigh on my future family. But I was the only millennial in sight,” he said.
The baby boomer generation is hitting the age where signs of Alzheimer’s start to show, roughly at age 65.
That being said, more people than ever before are at a high risk for Alzheimer’s, and the country’s healthcare system is already struggling, according to YMAA.
By 2050, reports show that over 15 million people — all millennials like Satyadev — will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the United States. YMAA is looking to combat that.
Following the summit, the Indian American student returned to campus and shortly after contacted UCLA’s Alzheimer’s-focused student group, Undergraduate Gerontology and Alzheimer’s Disease Association, and began making changes to the nonprofit.
The name was changed to the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s and it expanded rapidly with the collaboration of Satyadev, Professor Fernando Torres-Gil, former U.S. secretary of aging; and Dr. Gary Small, a world renowned geriatric psychiatrist.
YMAA is among the largest nonprofit campus organizations that is offered at colleges and high schools, providing students with research and scholarship opportunities, offers chapters Web space to promote themselves, pushes for advocacy for the disease such as through lobbying as well as provides free youth caregiver services.
The association opened chapters in more than 20 schools within the first 18 months and has attracted hundreds of students and provided more than 2,000 hours of respite time to caregivers.
The organization prides itself in its ability to create a space for a solely student-run organization from the bottom up, and will continue to work towards its goal in “Creating a Future Worth Remembering,” the association said.