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The July 4 news story “To revive his 2012 bid, Gingrich is finding his niches” highlighted a fundamental misunderstanding in American politics and culture today.

There’s nothing niche about Alzheimer’s, a cruel disease that afflicts one in three American families and one in eight Americans over age 65.

As our state again takes the lead in the presidential campaign process, it is often said that Iowa’s population is reflective of the nation as a whole. So what should presidential candidates know about us? In our state, about 1 in 2 of us are married, 1 in 7 have reached retirement age, and of those older than 65, 1 in 8 have Alzheimer’s.

That ratio is one that candidates must not overlook as they appeal for our support in the lead-up to our state’s caucus in February.

If scientists find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in the next decade, George and Trish Vradenburg will share a good deal of the credit.

When “Surviving Grace” — a mother-daughter play about Alzheimer’s — opened 10 years ago, the reviews were brutal, to say the least. “Critics didn’t like it, but audiences loved it,” playwright Trish Vradenburg told us. “I got the best reviews in Brazil. From now on, I’m writing everything in Portuguese.”

Surviving Grace, A Special Night at The Phillips Collection featured Trish Vradenburg and the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Network for an an exclusive Act One performance of her play Surviving Grace.

Surviving Grace reflects Vradenburg’s time as an Alzheimer’s caregiver for her mother, who died of the disease in 1992. (Diane Rehm David Bradley Jane Harman shown above)

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