Mental Illness – Alzheimer

By Peter Holley
2004

“It really is the long, long goodbye,” she told Wallace of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

“When you come right down to it, you’re in it alone, and there’s nothing that anybody can do for you,” she added, her stoic eyes turning watery. “So it’s lonely.” – Nancy Reagan speaking about President Ronald Reagan.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Source: Alzheimer Society Canada

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate over time. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and is irreversible.

Alzheimer is now the most common type of the disease, dementia. Like the dementia that I wrote about that was in Lillian, my best friend’s mother, it also changes the personality of the person. It’s target is the brain changing how the person thinks, acts, and feels. It is a slow acting disease that in the end leaves it’s target just an empty shell of once somebody that was vibrant with a twinkle in their eye.

The Alzheimer’s Society lists the different stages and the progression of the disease.

Early stage: Symptoms are mild. A person at this stage is fully aware of their condition and only needs minimal assistance, if requested.

Middle stage: Symptoms start becoming more noticeable. More assistance will be needed to help the person living with Alzheimer’s accomplish daily tasks.

Late stage: Once the person reaches this stage, they will eventually become unable to communicate verbally or look after themselves. Quality of care is important to ensure that the person has quality of life.

End-of-life: Cognitive decline has progressed to the point where the person needs 24-hour care. The focus shifts to palliative care and comfort to ensure quality of death.

Source: Alzheimer Society

Just recently my daughter wrote about her mother and how she is now living with her. It is my understanding that she is declining in her cognitive and physical.

I have not met a person who suffers from this form of dementia. Having watched Lillian decline over a couple of years was so difficult at the best of times. Alzheimer is no different, it robs it’s target and those who love them. It brings about a time of extreme stress giving the onlooker feeling helpless. If caught early, it is my understanding, that there are things to give the person a somewhat better quality of life.

So dear reader, again like I closed the previous post, I hope I live long enough to see some type of treatment to fight all the various forms of dementia mental illness!


© d. m. bourne

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