Alzheimer’s. It’s a one-word springboard to all kinds of reactions…not the least of which is fear. In spite of ongoing research, media attention and a greater understanding of the disease, it remains a debilitating and fatal process. It’s not merely forgetting. And to add to all that, our “understanding” of it is at times less than accurate.
There are quite a few myths and in spite of knowing these to be “true” — not so much. Some may recall some years back when there was a scare about using aluminum pans, cans and utensils (and even some antacids) because they contributed to Alzheimer’s; or artificial sweeteners; or flu shots; or.
Other non-truths include that Alzheimer’s is just part of getting older; or conversely, that only old (whatever that means) people get it. Younger onset Alzheimer’s can hit folks as early as in their 30’s, while some folks closing in on 100 may never experience it.
In fact, although there are indications that occurrences increase past 85, there are over 200,000 folks that are under 65 — which makes it another issue for all of us Boomers out there.
As studies progress, many of these myths are disappearing. However, being people, we will probably generate more.
It’s perhaps just another diagnosis for those untouched by it. Those who are living it, however, know it to be a process that can last for years and entails increasing caregiver involvement — with the accompanying roller coaster of emotions. And the folks who are involved are understandably less inclined to follow the research than they are in just dealing with day-to-day activities.
Obviously, there’s a lot to be said about family involvement and how Alzheimer’s impacts the whole family dynamic, such as changes in roles, support, and so on. And our Family Caregiver Support Program can be very helpful along these lines. There is, however, also a growing portion of our population who has no family support at all. Thus, it becomes more about all of us rather than just about “them”.
We can write about, and disseminate information, that would cover volumes, but one of the things we strive to do is make connections. We are not expert in all things, but can (hopefully) get you to the experts.
Rather than try to grasp what various individuals may be looking for, I defer to those who are in this arena daily. Go to www.alz.org and start your search. You’ll find everything from early warning signs, to coping with a family member who has Alzheimer’s; and even into more of the technical stuff about how it impact the brain physically and current research.
Again, it’s not about “them”, it’s about all of “us”... and the more information we have, the better our chances to navigate the deep waters.
Information & Assistance:Long Beach: 642-3634, 888-571-6558; Raymond: 942-2177, 888-571-6557
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on www.hometowndebate.com 3/27/13. If you would like to respond to this story go to hometowndebate.com