We receive two free newspapers each week. These are the type of papers my Mom called “throwaways”. You don’t pay for them or subscribe to them, but they appear. They carry the local news. Very local. In honor of World Alzheimer’s Month, I wrote a letter to the editor of each paper. It was published this week in the Wednesday paper. We’ll see if it is published in the Friday paper.
Today I received an e-mail from our son’s Boy Scout Leader. He had read the letter. He told me that his mother has Alzheimer’s. My letter includes the website for the Alzheimer’s Association, which he then visited, and learned there are some things he can do to reduce his own risk. Very rewarding. My letter is printed below. The editor supplied the title.
Don’t let fear keep you ignorant of Alzheimer’s
September is World Alzheimer’s Month. It is an opportunity to raise awareness, educate, and reduce fear. Everyone thinks they know what Alzheimer’s is but there is actually confusion about this disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website (www.alz.org) Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks the brain and is the most common form of dementia. It causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50% to 80% of dementia cases. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is not a specific disease, but an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50% to 80% of dementia cases.
When they think about Alzheimer’s, people often picture someone who is much older than they are, who can no longer take care of themselves and does not remember anyone. People are so afraid of hearing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s that they will avoid going to the doctor, choosing to be ignorant of their health situation rather than getting help. In this case, ignorance is not bliss.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things that can be done to slow the progression. The progress will be slowed at the point where you start taking medications and doing things to help your brain so the sooner a diagnosis is received, and action taken, the better.
Fear is the enemy of your health. I recently met a man who is convinced he has Alzheimer’s without ever seeing a doctor. He is afraid to go to the doctor but has planned how to end his life so he won’t suffer the way his parents did due to Alzheimer’s. Every day of his life this man lives thinking he has Alzheimer’s and is terrified of what the future holds for him and his family. My husband and I encouraged him to see a doctor now to stop this disease, if he does have it, in its tracks. Wouldn’t it be better to do all you can to stop this beast and live your life to the fullest rather than dreading the future?
In honor of World Alzheimer’s Month, educate yourself. Learn the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s. If you think you have a memory problem, get checked. If you know someone with Alzheimer’s, ask their family if they need help, then make a specific offer such as visiting with the person. Participate in or support someone walking in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Get over your fear. There is no better gift you can give yourself and your family. For more information, please visit www.alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900.