Thursday, November 13, 2008

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Ye socks who have followed posts in this dryer for any length of time know how Alzheimer's has affected yours truly on a personal level.

My dad died of an early-onset case of this horrible disease last year.

He was only 58 years old.

And, he and we suffered thru three of the most trying years anyone could imagine.

Frighteningly, the incidence of the disease are on the rise--thus the need for an entire month to promote awareness.

Two of the many lessons I learned from my family's battle with the disease:

1. It is not necessarily an inherited illness, though it is hard to identify cases in your family tree because the disease wasn't identified--much less understood--until fairly recent times. In Dad's case, I found two ancestors who probably had it but were assumed to merely be "senile." One was his maternal great-grandfather who died the year Dad was born but, according to contemporary newspaper accounts, "didn't know who he was anymore." The other was a Civil War widow whose children had to fill out her pension application because she "didn't recognize her own family, friends, or neighbors."

2. It is much more than forgetfullness, which is why I hate when AD is classified as a "memory disorder." In truth, it is a COGNITIVE disorder. Far more than a person's memory is affected by the disease. In Dad's case, it started with his vision. He saw things, but couldn't interpret what they meant. Then his verbal skills were impaired. Then, too many other things to mention here.

Be aware of this insidious disease, ye socks. And, if you recognize the symptoms in yourself or someone you know, seek treatment as quickly as possible. There are medications and other treatments available today that weren't around for Civil War widows--or even my dad.

For more info on AD, please visit

(This post made as part of the 60th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.)

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