“When my mom reached age 80 or there about, this gentle-hearted woman was snatched away from her family and was replaced by someone none of my siblings or myself recognized.” —Bernadette
My mother was a quiet-spoken, caring woman her entire life who raised 12 children (no, 12 is NOT a misprint!). She ran a very efficient household and worked, when needed, along side my father on the farm where most of our food was grown. However, when my mom reached age 80 or there about, this gentle-hearted woman was snatched away from her family and was replaced by someone none of my siblings or myself recognized.
In her place was a very angry, paranoid woman who bore no resemblance to my mother. She had trouble knowing her own children, calling some of us by other relatives’ names. I became my grandmother, my mother’s long-deceased mother. She could no longer balance her checkbook, and she was constantly misplacing items she used frequently. In one such incident, she was so distraught because she couldn’t find her flashlight, and blamed me for hiding it. I searched for it, discovering she had put it in the fridge. Mystery solved.
This insidious kidnapper was Alzheimer’s
Our society is somewhat aware of this personality-robbing fiend, but actually very little is known about the causes and means of potentially slowing down the disease. Research is being done on many levels. Unfortunately, it’s still in its infancy in terms of doing clinical trials on Alzheimer’s patients. There are as many as 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the United States, and 40 million in the entire world. And, it’s estimated that the number in the U.S. will rise to 10 million in the next 5 years due to the “Baby Boomer” generation expected to live well into their 80s.
With this in mind, I want to speak to all the families out there having to deal with this devastatingly debilitating disease, and also their caretakers. There is help and hope for all involved. In my new series of articles, I will discuss various topics related to Alzheimer’s, like advances being made in nutrition studies and how cognitive exercises may or may not help, among other things.
Let’s all stay strong and hopeful, so we can ultimately kick this monster in the ass!
Together, let’s age boldly,
To read more from “Writing the Digital Page: Notes from Bernadette,” check out this article about living better as a low-income senior!
Feature Image Credit: Gerd Altmann