Sunday, March 20, 2011

What increasingly common disease has no survivors? There are survivors of cancer, heart attacks, lung disease, kidney transplants. This disease has no cure, no transplants, no medication and is starting to effect Americans as young as thirty years old. It is Alzheimer’s disease. The steady loss of memory over time. It is not caused by any trauma or from a violent accident, it just happens. It bothers the people that are supposed to be remembered more than the memory loss person. They are at peace with themselves.
The disease can come to anyone. Rich or poor, bright or average; it is not associated with any particular race or ethnic group. Alzheimer does not discriminate. At least it waits for you to have some history with someone or a place before it strikes. No children have been reported with the disease although recently it does not only effect the elderly. It begins with subtle lapses in memory and can quickly progress to talking to the person in the mirror and inviting that person to lunch.
It effects everything; the whole way someone IS. It effects their personality, their behavior, thinking, memory, their ability to speak. Dr. James Galvin is Professor of Neurology & Psychology at New York University’s Langhorne Medical Center. He says, “Most Alzheimer patients are in their 70’s and 80’s. It can also strike as young as 30 when it is called early or younger onset.” There are about 250,000 Americans now who have the disease before the age of 65. There is no cure and no known cause. And even worse says, Beth Colmeyer, a Senior Director at the Alzheimer’s Association, “There is no evidence that shows that you can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.” God Help US!!!
As baby boomers age, the problem will get far worse. In 2010 it was reported that 5.3 million Americans have the disease. By mid century say, 2050 that number is expected to triple to about 16 million. You can be diagnosed early enough when you can grieve about your future. Many want to be isolated from their loved ones. You don’t want to see the pain on the faces of someone you are supposed to remember like a husband or wife or your own children and treat them like a stranger because you can’t remember their name or birthday.
It is a long process that a family has to go through. It is a reminder that we have to treat each day loving someone as beyond value. We who know what we love about someone miss it and cherish it. We will suffer when we loose it. The memory loss victim is in a totally different place. They don’t worry. They don’t stress about anything. Bills, relationships, politics, hate, evil weather, heat , cold. They are at peace and are happy in their own little world. Sometimes I wonder who has the real problem in life. The needing person or the caregiver. Some people or things I wish I could forget.

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