Alzheimer's disease is not the same as age onset dementia or a simple case of confusion or forgetfulness. It is much more than that and right now we don't have many answers.
Alzheimer’s disease can strike anyone, young or old. It is an insidious and progressive that strips you of your quality of life and will make you a stranger in your own environment. It will eventually take your life from you. No one, not even the most astute medical experts really understand Alzheimer’s disease, not fully and there is no cure. It is one of those diseases that sneak up on you unaware and once it catches you there is nothing much you can do to stop its eventual onslaught of destruction. It is frightening to say the very least.
We don’t even really know what causes Alzheimer’s but we do know it is not the common systematic symptoms of aging or what is called “old age dementia” that is found in the elderly. Our body including our mind eventually wears out. It happens to all of us and is as much a part of life as being born. We all go through various stages in life and that includes wearing down, wearing out and dying but that has nothing to do with Alzheimer’s. That is simply the days of our lives taking its toll.
You don’t have to be ancient to have Alzheimer’s disease. I have known people in their early fifties who have had Alzheimer’s. Fifty is not old even if your teenager does think you are ancient and don’t know very much. You will get smarter as your teenager gets older but if you are experiencing some of these signs associated with aging and on a fairly regular basis you might want to take another look at what is going on in your life and maybe see your doctor. Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes problems with memory, thinking, reasoning, our cognitive skills and our behavior, our social skills and our ability to perform simple task.
It is so sad to see a brilliant, productive, happy life disrupted and destroyed by this horrid disease. Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and appears to be doing so more frequently but is still more common from your mid 60’s and upward in age or maybe it is just more often recognized and correctly diagnosed in older people.
We laugh and we joke around with each other about what we on the surface think of as silly blunders but maybe we ought to take a closer look. It might just be more than too much of the stuff of life, all that push, shove and being pulled in a dozen different directions causing us to forget what we are doing for a moment or why we are where we are. It might just be that insidious disease lurking in the shadows of your mind and body waiting for its chance to destroy you and pull you away from everything you love and care about. Alzheimer’s affects you mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. It eats away at every aspect of your being.
Today, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 65% of all diagnosed cases of dementia and you don’t have to be old to have it. Symptoms don’t happen suddenly, it is insidious and develops slowly and increases until it robs you of your ability to perform the simplest of daily living skills.
I’ve laughed right along with others when someone makes a blunder and then comments jokingly, “Oh my, I’m beginning to think I have early Alzheimer’s, seems like I am getting so forgetful lately.” We joke and blame it on the stress and struggles of life, too much busyness and just another sign of the times, but wait; maybe it is something we need to take a closer look at. Alzheimer’s disease is no joke. It is dangerous and it is deadly and there is no cure.
It is no laughing matter. It is common for a person to occasionally forget names, dates, places or appointments but then we remember them later. This can happen to any of us and more so it seems once we get beyond our mid 60’s or early 70’s and our change in lifestyle becomes less mind stimulating. It is normal. What isn’t normal is when this memory loss becomes frequent and we start forgetting recently learned information, important dates, current events and we have to ask for the same information over and over, keep notes, daily reminders, make use of other memory aids just to get through a single day on our own without the guidance, assistance and reminders from family and friends. If this is happening to you, you might want to think about the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is not uncommon for anyone to occasional make a mistake in counting money, measuring something, following a simple recipe, follow a plan of action that suddenly may require a change from routine, keeping track of monthly bills and obligations, adding and subtracting in our head or making an occasional error in balancing our checkbook . Those things sometimes happen to all of us because of distractions or too much busyness or simply not concentrating on what we are doing but it is uncommon when concentration becomes a difficult task and these sorts of blunders start occurring on a regular basis. If this is happening to you, you might want to think about the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease and talk with your doctor about it.
If you find you are having more difficulty remembering how to perform simple basic task like using your settings on your microwave, TV or DVD player, setting your alarm clock, forgetting the rules to a game you have frequently played, numerical or alphabetical sequences, confusing directions in what should be familiar locations and feeling lost, these things may happen to any of us once in awhile because we are over tired or distracted or just have too much on our mind, but if it is happening on a fairly regular basis you might want to think about Alzheimer’s.
If you find you are having trouble following a conversation or participating in a conversation and you are not hearing impaired and may have a corrective hearing device, if you have difficulty with vocabulary, stringing words together and find you are repeating things over or stop in the middle of a conversation and can’t remember what you were talking about, can’t go on and this is happening more frequently than only occasionally, you might want to think about Alzheimer’s and talk with your doctor.
If you are having trouble identifying simple objects you have known and used all your life, like a wrench, screwdriver, hammer, sewing needles, paring knife, pens, and may call them by some other name or not know how to use them or what they are for, it may be a sign of Alzheimer’s and you might want to talk with your doctor.
We all occasional forget which day of the week it is or lose track of time for a moment or two but we remember and “Oh geez, what was I thinking, where have I been,” and we laugh about it but you might want to think about Alzheimer’s if you find you are frequently becoming more confused about time, space and place or if you find yourself wondering where you have been, how you got where you are or are confused about things that happened moments ago or are planned for sometime ahead, hours or days and you are stuck only in the immediate and not able to sort out time elements. You might want to talk with your doctor.
We all misplace things from time to time but we can usually find them again with a little back-tracking but if you are losing things and no longer have a clue what may have happened to them, can’t remember when or what you were doing the last time you saw or used the item, may even be upset enough to accuse others of stealing them, that is a sin that you may be developing Alzheimer’s so talk with your doctor.
If mirror reflections, shadow images, changes in light and dark, judging distance, height and depth, motion, reading comprehension are causing apprehension and becoming confusing and difficult and you have already seen your eye doctor for vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, perhaps have corrective lenses; then you might want to talk with your doctor about Alzheimer’s disease.
Other signs of possible Alzheimer’s onset are a change in grooming habits, not wanting or seeing a need to get dressed, take regular baths, dress properly for the weather or occasion. We may become less aware of our appearance. If you find you are making poor choices in your eating habits, in your social habits and there is change beyond the changes of a normal and expected lifestyle, you may have a problem developing. If you find you are withdrawing from family, friends, church, clubs and other social activities that have always been of interest to you and part of your life, you may want to think about what is happening to you. We all go through life changes and our interest in things waxes and wanes but if we are doing nothing to replace those interests we might want to think about it because it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
We all make bad choices once in awhile and sometimes make decisions we regret later but if you find you are more frequently acting before you think, using poor judgment with money or other property, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers for items and reasons that have no benefit or purpose for you and is beyond your financial means and you can’t remember doing it or why you did it, maybe you should talk with your doctor about Alzheimer’s.
We all grow weary of our work situations from time to time, get bored with a hobby or lose interest for a time in certain sports or other social activity. We may cut back on our social obligations for one reason or another from time to time and that is normal but when we begin excluding our self from all these things for a prolonged period of time that is not normal. People need people and we need to be around others, communicate, participate and share with family and friends so if you find you are not and have less and less desire to do so, cannot make yourself do it, if you are becoming stressed when you have to be in a social environment you might want to talk with your doctor. It may be Alzheimer’s disease.
If you find you are having difficulty dealing with any disruption to routine, are easily upset by change, having feelings of confusion, anxiety, feeling fearful, suspicious of others, even those you have known and trusted for most of your life, feeling disoriented even in places that should be familiar to you and having mood swings that go from happy to melancholy, angry, bitter and frustrated and you can’t explain why, talk to your doctor about it because these are all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. They can be symptoms of other things too but don’t take the risk. Alzheimer’s is no laughing matter. It is serious. It is dangerous and it is deadly. It will rob you of all quality of life and there is no known cure. Alzheimer’s disease is no respecter of age. You don’t have to be old to get Alzheimer’s. The sooner you know about it the more quickly you can get help and maybe prolong your quality of life for awhile.
At this time there is no known cure, no treatment to delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and over a period of time, for some more rapidly than others, Alzheimer’s will steal your quality of life. We may laugh and joke about our forgetfulness or suddenly feeling confused in normally common and familiar places and situations; maybe it is no more than being stressed from too much busyness, over work, over play, a zillion things going on in our life all at once and we just short-circuit for a moment but if it seems to be happening more frequently you might want to check with your doctor. Alzheimer’s is no laughing matter.