Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States,
Charlton Heston, movie star, and Norman Rockwell, artist,
are just a few of the famous people who have had
Alzheimer’s disease. They put a face on a devastating illness.
Facing the possibility of losing a little bit of oneself every
day is a dismal prospect. The fear is real, and the disease is
irreversible. Is there any hope?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) holds the dubious distinction of
being the most common cause of dementia. We still do not
know what causes this disease, but evidence points to brain
damage occurring over a long period of time before any sign of
forgetfulness becomes worrisome. How much forgetfulness is
enough to warrant further examination? Obviously, if you
are very concerned about this, a trip to your physician may
allay your fears.
We all have those minor “senior moments” of forgetfulness.
However, if memory challenges disrupt your daily routine in
some manner, that may be cause for concern. Being unable
to balance the checkbook when you have done it previously
with little effort may be worrisome. An inability to follow a
plan or understand a favorite recipe is another sign. Confusion
is very typical with AD, such as not being able to travel to a
known place or to find your way home. Anyone can forget
about those very important dates, but we have the ability to
recall them later. A warning sign in AD is when important
dates or even their purpose can no longer be remembered.
Needing to retrieve the instructions to reset the clocks or
other electronics is common. Not remembering how to
brush your teeth or dress yourself needs evaluation. Those
with AD may find it difficult to express themselves using
the correct words or to understand others.
Although there is no cure yet, early detection is still useful
and important. Early diagnosis allows one to be an active
participant in planning for future care. It permits you to
have a say in legal matters regarding your estate while you
can still do so. Becoming involved in support groups will
help to enhance the quality of your life. Your family can
benefit from these services also.
Yes, there is always hope, and it may be in early diagnosis.
Research continues to advance in this area and early treatment
may become crucial. Early detection can give you an
opportunity to receive treatment or participate in clinical
trials that can slow down the progression of the disease.
Knowing what is ahead may give you a better future.
— Written by Betty Tyron
This article is for general information only and does not
constitute medical advice. Consult with your physician for questions
regarding this topic.