I was a young mother when I first heard an association to what I later learned was Alzheimer's disease. Someone mentioned that So-and-so must have Old Timer's Disease because she was always forgetting things. "Old Timer's Disease" it turned out, was the bravado way of talking about a disease that lays waste to individuals, families and communities. The joke wasn't funny once I understood what this disease is.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive form of dementia with no cure. The most common symptom is memory loss, but not all memory problems are caused by AD. (If you or someone you love has problems with memory, consult your doctor.)
AD destroys brain cells, which thereby causes problems with the various functions of the brain. AD also destroys families by slowly taking a person they love away, piece by piece, until they are no longer aware of whom they are or whom the people around them are. This is a tragic and heartbreaking time.
Both my mother and my mother-in-law from my first marriage had dementia. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Momma's was a different type of dementia. Caring for them was difficult. Momma's dementia caused her to forget things that had just happened (short-term memory loss) but she knew who I was up until the day she died. My mother-in-law on the other hand got to the point where she did not know her family and friends. She forgot how to feed and care for herself. She could not walk, or sit up. Her heart kept her alive, but the woman we all knew and loved had disappeared months before her death.
The Alzheimer's Organization has just released a new report, Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers. In the report, it states that 1 in 8 baby boomers will be diagnosed with AD. It will become the defining disease of our generation, killing more people than cancer and heart disease. Millions of people will die from this disease. We need to stop making jokes about it and find a cure.
I encourage everyone who reads this blog to download the Boomers report. Learn about this disease. Visit Alzheimers.org. Talk to your family, your doctors and your friends. Ask your congress people to support research for a cure.
We can make a difference, together, one-step at a time.