Don’t Forget Alzheimer’s Patients

Short-term memory is the first to go.

By Kevin RR Williams

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HEALTH Johnnie's eyes would brighten as she raised up in her chair. Solidly fixed on my wife, Johnnie excitedly exclaimed, "I remember you…" To which my wife replied as if there were signs of progress, "That's wonderful," before being interrupted by Johnnie's continuation, "…We were in high school together." Johnnie was more than 40 years older than my wife. After an awkward pause, my wife responded, "It's good to see you again too."

Landis: I was charged with the delicate task of telling a seasoned public speaker that his time had come to an end. Tactfully, I reminded Landis of his accomplishments and praised him for his outstanding service. He thanked me and tearfully acknowledged his growing confusion before an audience. To my question of what should be done, Landis stated one conclusion — reliquish his position. Saving him further embarrassment, he asked me to tell the group. Days after I complied, Landis angrily protested to others that he didn't understand why I stripped him of his responsibility.

Vincent: At a good price, I purchased a sturdy computer desk from an auction. It weighs well over 200 pounds so the question came up as the gavel went down, "How do I get it home and up stairs." Scanning my phonebook for someone available on a weekday, Vincent's name stood out. A "retired" builder by trade, in his mid 70s, Vincent could crush my palm with a handshake if he didn't exercise restraint. He leaped at the opportunity to assist, easily supporting the bulk of the weight on the low end of the steps. Vincent was stronger than men half his age. In time, it confounded me to witness his inability to keep a confidence, then adamantly deny revealing it. Within six years Vincent was drinking juice through a Sippy Straw in a convalescent hospital, unable to tell is powerful left hand from his right.

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Though each of these friends and workmates is now gone, the names have been changed for family privacy. Nevertheless, they are not forgotten, neither is the ailment to which they succumbed — Alzheimer's Disease. Yes, more than a fashionable excuse for not remembering, Alzheimer’s can take lives as early signs of the disease become progressively worse.

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

This abbreviated list, provided by Alzheimer’s Association, is for information only and not a substitute for a consultation with a qualified medical professional.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality.

By 2050, the number of individuals 65 and older with Alzheimer's is projected to number 11 million to 16 million — unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or more effectively treat the disease.

As part of Alzheimer's Awareness Month, in cooperation with Alzheimer’s Association, free materials for patents and doctors can be downloaded from our online store. If there's one thing you should remember, it's that Alzheimer's is not a disease to forget. Symptoms can be managed with proper treatment and patient oversight.

Tags: early onset, what are the symptoms of alzehimer's disease, patient education

Image by Wildpixel licensed from iStock Photo, retouched by author.