I finally got to one of the books on my lengthy reading list and though it dealt with early on-set Alzheimer's, I found it brought up some interesting issues.
The Thousand Mile Stare: One Family’s Journey through the Struggle and Science of Alzheimer’s by Gary Reiswig
Most of us are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, affecting half of those over 85 years of age. But did you know that there is an early on-set type as well and it starts when someone is in their 40’s or 50’s? About 200,000 people in the US have it and in some of these families, scientists have been able to identify the gene causing it. With the gene identified, this means multiple family members through several generations could have the disease.
Reiswig’s book alternates between telling the family story of early on-set Alzheimer’s stemming all the way back to his Great Great Grandfather and between the scientific research done on this particular type of Alzheimer’s of which Reiswig’s family has been a part.
Reading through this book, two things really drew my attention. One is Reiswig’s Aunt Ester May, who, rather than hiding the family disease under the covers, knew how important it was to find out what was causing her husband’s odd behavior. This was back in the 1950’s! Much to the family’s dismay, Aunt Ester spoke about what she was seeing around her and not just with the immediate family. She publicly spoke about her husband’s condition and the problems of senior care and knew that research needed to be done. Sixty years ago, there was this cheerleader and advocate for the disease soldiering along to get answers – incredible!
The other item that the book got me thinking about was that this particular early on-set Alzheimer’s could be identified by genetic testing, meaning that you could find out if you would get the disease. I posed the question to my husband – “Would we want to know if we were going to get it?” It’s a thought provoking question. If you knew, what would that mean for you – would you live your life differently? Go on that vacation that you’ve always wanted to now rather than later? Would you make plans for your future senior care? Make your wishes known? Put your affairs in order?
Oftentimes, preparing for senior care for yourself or a loved one is not a top priority. It’s often something thought about when the need is immediate and urgent and when you’re stressed. It can be overwhelming and frustrating so start it early- AARP has some great resources for starting the process.
If you are in need of information on senior home care for yourself or a loved one in Western Montgomery or Upper Bucks County, PA, please contact us – we can help!