Tough Guys with Alzheimer’s

March 15, 2014 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Based on work in the home care industry in Chapel Hill, we see that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are very misunderstood.  In essence, they are a disability just like any other.  We are not embarrassed to say we have a broken leg and are unable to climb the stairs.  Why are we embarrassed to admit that our brain does not function as normal and we are unable to think clearly in all situations?

Maybe because it’s not obvious, at least initially, that we have such a disability.  Unlike a broken leg, which is not subject to debate, cognitive impairment happens slowly and is hard to diagnose.

Maybe because there is nothing more sacred, nothing more essential to our being and sense of self-worth than the ability to think, reason and recall.

Based on recent research, Alzheimer’s /dementia may be the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Data that placed it lower on the list underreport the impact of Alzheimer’s because, once our brains deteriorate, our bodies and immune systems are much more vulnerable and we fall victim to a variety of maladies.  The underlying cause, however, is dementia.

It can be helpful, for the dementia sufferer and his family to know that many “tough guys” have suffered from the disease.  It would be hard to find anyone more virile and manly than Charlton Heston. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 and died from complications five years later.

 

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