Alzheimer's: Writing on the Edge of Forgetfulness
Alzheimer’s: a word that can strike fear in the hearts of both the young and old alike. It is a degenerative disease in nature, which means that it not only affects the victim but also the people around him or her. Sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s senile dementia, this condition is characterized by progressive and exponential neuronal death alongside the atrophy of certain areas of the brain. As a result, the person begins to suffer memory loss. It first affects short-term memory, then as the disease progresses, it affects long-term memory to the point where he or she may permanently forget his or her family and loved ones.
Fortunately, despite being the most common type of dementia, 5 to 8 out of 12 cases of dementia fall into this category, making it still an uncommon disease. However, there is a running misconception that Alzheimer’s, or senility in general, is a normal part of human development, which implies that as one grows old, they will eventually develop this disease. However, as the experts in the Alzheimer’s Association’s website say, the disease is not a normal part of aging, though the confusion is understandable since, while its causes still remain unknown to this day, old age plays a pivotal role in the onset of the disease. That being said, Alzheimer’s is more common in individuals over 65 years of age, and the life expectancy of those who suffer from it is usually 4 to 6 years after the symptoms become noticeable. Though, with proper care and medication, a person can live upwards of 20 years with Alzheimer’s.
It’s important to note that while the disease does not directly kill its victim, the complications that stem from extended periods of lying down or sitting, which are common in its advanced stages due to decreased muscle mass, coupled with incontinence and decaying hygienic conditions can bring about fatal secondary infections that slowly deteriorate his or her health. Alzheimer’s is, by definition, a terminal condition; the person will never recover from the disease. However, through the use of medication, its symptoms can be slowed and the inevitable fall into ‘permanent forgetfulness’ can be stalled.