The Horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease has gotten a lot of press in recent years, which is a good thing. More people are attuned to the problem, and more people are giving to Alzheimer’s disease research. Hopefully, medical science will find a cure for this problem within the lifetimes of today’s aging population. Many of the young people alive today should be able to see a cure for Alzheimer’s happen within their lifetimes. They will appreciate it more than subsequent generations, since they will have lived through an age that understood Alzheimer’s and feared it.
A lot of researchers think Alzheimer’s is largely genetic. It runs in families. However, few diseases are entirely genetic. Individuals who have certain genetic risk factors can exacerbate the situation through certain lifestyle factors. People that don’t exercise enough and people that don’t socialize enough may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. There may be a causal link between Alzheimer’s and hypertension as well. However, part of the horror of Alzheimer’s is the simple fact that many researchers aren’t certain about what causes Alzheimer’s.
It’s normal for some older people to be a bit forgetful, but Alzheimer’s patients will often have a hard time remembering things that happened to them very recently. This tends to be a preliminary symptom. However, Alzheimer’s patients will soon find it difficult to remember where they are at any given time. Their speech patterns will suffer as their verbal abilities decline. Some of them will have a difficult time remembering the people that they used to know, or even many of the details related to their personal lives. They may lose their ambition and motivation to do almost anything, including care for themselves. Alzheimer’s patients are quickly forced to move to assisted living facilities. They lose their independence in addition to everything else.
The stereotypes about aging people make it harder for researchers and doctors to properly diagnose and address Alzheimer’s. Some people dismiss memory loss as a fact of life, and they refer to most aged people as senile. There’s a tremendous difference between Alzheimer’s and the normal consequences of aging. For one thing, many people fail to realize that Alzheimer’s is effectively a terminal illness. Many people only live for nine years after they are first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and some people only survive for three years afterward.
A lot of us want to know what we can do to counteract Alzheimer’s on an individual and societal level. We can look after our family members who are suffering from the disease. We can manage our own diets and lifestyles to reduce our chances of developing the disease regardless of our genetics, since no one can change those. We can also all work together to support Alzheimer’s research, so scientists can work on developing treatments for the disease and so they can get better at diagnosing it in the first place. Alzheimer’s may one day be a thing of the past, but today, it is a truly terrifying fate that many of us are trying to desperately avoid as we age.