“My mother had early-onset Alzheimer’s, and it took her four years to die. She was only 44; I was 14.” ~ Karolyn Grimes
“I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They’re gone. They are gone.” ~ Pat Robertson
“I’m in awe of people out there who deal with Alzheimer’s, because they have to deal with death 10 times over, year after year.” ~ Marcia Wallace
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Alzheimer’s, Dementia … mention these diseases to me and I get really angry. I am angry because they tear the patriarchs of our family away from us. I am angry because these diseases eat away not only at bodies but at minds once brilliant and shining, leaving nothing but ashes blowing in the smoke of obliterated memories. I am angry as I watch atrophied muscles in legs and arms refusing to cooperate, under dimmed eyes which always seem to ask: “who are you, where am I, how did I get here, why don’t I know any of these people?” These questions really cut to the heart when it’s your mom (or dad) wondering what’s going on.
But in case you didn’t truly know …
- The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease.
- Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
- African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
- Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
Because of the increasing number of people age 65 and older in the United States, particularly the oldest-old, the number of new cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to soar. Today, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s dementia every 66 seconds. By mid-century, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
If you haven’t seen the movie “Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore I invite you to download it and find a quiet moment where you can watch uninterrupted. After you have recovered from all of the emotions, take a breath and then watch this interesting and informative TED Talk by Lisa Genova, author of the book Still Alice (on which the movie is based) as she speaks to the audience on how we can possibly avoid Alzheimer’s. I for one will seriously need to catch up on my sleep and attempt to learn new things more often.
But what about you? Is anyone in your family affected by this terrible disease? Are you a caregiver? How has it affected you? What have you learnt from the experience? In observation of Mother’s Day I am inviting you to please share your story; someone out there needs to know they are not alone in this struggle.