As many of you my loyal, readers know I am a big fan of Nova, the science-based series on PBS. The other day I watched an episode that for me is truly frightening and poignant. It was a study done by the University of Wisconsin, which is ongoing showing three participants how they are dealing with dementia in their lives.
Their parents suffered and died from its long battle with Alzheimer’s, going from the first stages of forgetting where they might have left their keys or their appointment with a doctor or misplacing their glasses, to later stages.
It is a sad and frightening aspect of becoming old, whether forgetting where one left their car keys, is just part of getting old or a more sinister sign of Alzheimer’s, which is a form of dementia. It is a reality all of us must face. With Alzheimer’s you can’t think, you lose your bodily functions, You lose the ability to eat or even know when you are thirsty. Finally, there is nothing left but death itself to finally end the suffering.
As the show explained, Dementia is like an umbrella, and Alzheimer’s is spoke of that umbrella, abet a very destructive spoke that eventually takes away every aspect of your life. There is nothing more frightening, I think, than losing your mind where you are just a caricature of what you used to be. You become less than human because your mind is no longer yours to control.
Because Alzheimer’s affects the brain, we don’t feel the damage it creates and causes. Unless we have a CT or MRI scan done on our brain, we aren’t aware what is happening until it is too late. There are cognitive tests participants perform in which the person is asked to recall a list of numbers or names or redrawing certain shapes such as ellipses or squares.
I hope that I am not suffering from that horrible disease. I hope my senior moments aren’t a harbinger to more serious issues to come. I sometimes wonder and I’m scared that I do, but then again I just don’t know. Whenever I am in a room, meaning to do something, but then forgot why I came into this room in the first place, then I remember, I often wonder.
The brain is a wonderful organ and an aging brain can still hold marvelous ideas, thoughts, and memories to share with others. The one thing that the study did convey was that we need to keep ourselves active, physically, and mentally so that those senior moments aren’t an omen of Alzheimer’s.