Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Biggest Fears: Alzheimer's Disease

So this fear is totally acceptable, I think, considering how completely devastating it is to those who are affected by it.  (Though I'm not sure everyone is quite as neurotic as I am, in that they worry about this at least once a week.)

Alzheimer's Disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country, and the only cause of death in the top 10 that cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed.  To me, this is blood-curdling frightening.  The idea of your memories escaping you is petrifying and the fact that there is nothing we can do to help just makes it scarier.


While I worry often about being afflicted with Alzheimer's myself, what really gets to me is the worry that those I am close to will develop the dementia-ridden disease.  Just thinking about looking into my mother's eyes and her not knowing who I am makes me want to cry.  Imagining Hat Dad missing pieces of his memory makes me sick to my stomach.

During clinicals, I worked with quite a few patients with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.  It was so very sad to see the look in their family members' eyes when they would come visit and not be remembered.  It was heartbreaking, and it certainly contributed to my fear.

While there is no cure or even preventative treatment for Alzheimer's Disease, there are things you can do if this is one of your biggest fears too, or if your heart just breaks for those who've had to face this fear.  You can walk for Alzheimer's, advocate, and donate.  Educate yourself, and know the 10 signs of Alzheimer's.

I think one of the reasons this scares me the most (and probably the reason most fears affect me the way they do) is that there is genuinely nothing I can do about this.  I can walk for days, advocate all I want, donate my life's savings, and know all there is to know - I still can not prevent it from happening to me, my family, or anyone for that matter.  I don't have the control here, and giving up control is never easy.  All I can do is hope for the best, pray for a cure, and know that if I ever have to face this fear head-on that I will find the strength somewhere.

Are you personally affected by Alzheimer's Disease?  Share with me.  Tell me why it sucks, how much it hurts, how you deal with it, the ways in which you cope, the efforts you've made for the cause - tell me whatever you want, whatever helps you.

Statistics from Alzheimer's Association.

2 comments:

Melissa {TheScarletCardinal} said...

My Nana had Alzheimer's, and it was terrible to watch. At the beginning when she still knew what was going on she would pull me aside and say that she hoped I never got "The Alzheimer's". It was so sad. I worry about it now and again as well since it does tend to run in families. So scary. I just hope if anyone else is affected I'm able to provide the best possible care for them.

Great post!

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