When the Memories Fade…

March 25, 2012

Memory is the ability to retain and recall information. Memories are what make it possible for us to function. Memory enables us to learn as we remember how to feed ourselves, tie our shoes,  and perform many tasks necessary to care for ourselves.

We recall the scent of a rose, the sound of our baby’s first cry, an inspiring comment from a parent, friend, or teacher, the aroma of baking cookies, the feeling of a caress from our spouse, the taste of chocolate, a Scripture from the Bible.  We learn how to count, read, solve problems. Memory makes us who we are—we experience, we learn, we remember.

Memories, precious as they are, tend to fade with age—or with illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. It’s heartbreaking both for the victims and their families. According to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is “an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.”

In the mild stage of Alzheimer’s disease, a person may misplace or lose things, have trouble handling money, become confused in familiar surroundings, and forget simple words. As the disease progresses into the moderate stage, the person may have difficulty doing things that require multiple steps like getting dressed, increased confusion and memory loss, become unconcerned about hygiene or appearance. Changes in mood and behavior often occur. When the disease reaches the severe stage, round-the-clock care is required. The dementia patient then loses the ability to recognize family members, becomes unable to communicate,  may wander off and not be able to find his or her way home. Finally, the patient has difficulty eating and swallowing.

This is not a comprehensive list of signs and symptoms. Nor am I an expert on Alzheimer’s’ and dementia. To learn more, go http://www.alz.org. While you’re at the Alzheimer’s Association site,  please sign the petition to get federal commitment to funding Alzheimer’s research.

My dear sister-in-law, Laura, has Alzheimer’s. We are losing her, little by little. It’s heart-wrenching. Her daughter, Crystal, is working very hard to increase awareness, raise funds, and point people to whatever assistance they need.  She has a Facebook page “Don’t Forget to Remember.” If you have a minute, please check it out.

Like many other things, such as developmental disabilities or retardation and mental health issues, Alzheimer’s is no joke, and nothing to joke about. Please join me in praying for a cure for this horrible disease.

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