AN ALZHEIMER’S STORY

A Few Facts and Opinion

This terrible, horrific, mind-blasting disease was not discovered until 1901. The discoverer was Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician. He placed all his findings, including symptoms, in “medical literature” in 1907. There it sat. At the time, Senile was the common word given to all those who suffered some form of dementia (dementia is the father word for Alzheimer’s disease).

You may wonder why so many years went by before scientists and physicians could focus on the disease and its possible cures. The answer is simple. Until technical wizards could sort it out, no one was able to follow through. The steady explosion of knowledge about the disease and how to deal with it began in the 1950s. However, the wizard scientists and physicians did not make much headway during the latter years of the twentieth century. They found out through studying brains of sufferers that died, that amyloid plaques had taken over these brains. But many of the thorough studies they made to find out why and how were disappointing. That amyloid plaques play a significant role in the disease is true, but something was eluding the scientists. The scientists gathered at the annual meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association (2019) are revealing recent research that may culminate in successful disease enlightenment. It’s Neuroinflammation.

Even in 1997 when a doctor told me after he performed a CT scan of my husband’s brain (he had had a slight stroke), that the only definitive answer as to whether he did or did not have the disease, could only come after my husband died. His brain had to be examined. I then contacted the Alzheimer’s Foundation to learn about early stage symptoms. Unfortunately, they were as unsure about symptoms as I.

The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Foundation came into being in 1980. President Ronald Reagan’s designation of a yearly national “Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Week” enabled the fledging association to begin funding research into this horrendously evil disease. A drug, Aricept, which slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, was soon developed with several more drugs following. At the time, the questions asked by doctors and lawyers to ascertain Alzheimer’s symptoms were:

  • What is your full name
  • How old are you
  • What is your home address
  • What is your home telephone number
  • What year is this
  • Can you count backward from 10 to 0

I am now aware from what I have gathered in my research that Alzheimer’s disease can strike those over sixty through genetics (carried by a family line), alcohol abuse, smoking, high fat diet, untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and concussions. The jury is still out on anesthesias used in operations, particularly in older people. Studies continue to be conducted on this issue.

Although not as common as when it attacks aging influences, the disease can also strike people earlier. Scientists have discovered mutations of genes that produce “early-onset Alzheimer’s”. Here are figures researchers in a large study conducted in Milan, Italy, in 2009 about its attack on older people.

  • 13.5%, 80 to 84 years
  • 30.8%, 85 to 89 years
  • 39.5%, 90 to 94 years
  • 20.7%, Those over 94

The study author, Dr. Emma Reynish, a geriatrician and coordinator of the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium from the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, said in a news release, “Age remains as the single most important risk factor. . . the prevalence of dementia of women over the age of 85 had been unreported.”

So, what should we do to decrease chances of becoming an Alzheimer’s victim? Whatever your age, eat healthy natural foods and do away with those that are processed as much as you can. Exercise is also important. One form for brain health is to practice taking long and deep breaths daily. The brain demands lots of oxygen to enable its best functions. Dr. Oz has written that everyone should practice “deep breathing” for five minutes every day. He also reminds, “Boost your aerobic activity” by walking.

You and I can be reassured that research scientists are doing everything possible to learn how to destroy this disease. There are multi-studies being conducted all over the world into the variances onset, categorization of symptoms, and stages of the disease.

And – as if it were a moment ago – I sit with my dying husband, holding tight onto his hand. I tell him, “Please, my dearest, you can leave. The kids will take good care of me.” That said, he opened his eyes, looked right at me, smiled and with a deep satisfied sigh, expired.

He knew what I had said. Briefly, miraculously, heartbreakingly – his renewal of memory as he said goodbye to life – this smile, this full expression of love – has happened to others. Scientists have something else to study about in Alzheimer’s disease.

One more thing: My next Blog will be about the Alzheimer’s attack on my beloved husband and how the three disease stages affected him.

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