An Alzheimera[euro][TM]s Christmas

Manila Bulletin, December 18, 2005 | Go to article overview

An Alzheimera[euro][TM]s Christmas


Old fools are babes again,

and must be used with checks as flatteries.

a" William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet.

Goneril, in King Lear, act 1, sc. 3.

BAD news for Elizabeth Bolden (b. August 15, 1890) of Memphis, Tennessee. The Guinness World Records took away from her the worldas oldest living person distinction and gave it to Ecuadorian Maria Esther Capovilla who turned 116 (b. Sept 14, 1889). Imagine! These women breathed the same air as Jose Rizal and they are still alive!

A manager of Guinness described the worldas oldest person: Sheas in very good health; sheas got good sight, is able to read the papers and watch television, and doesnat walk with a stick.

Mrs. Capovilla shows us that growing old and senile dementia are not one and the same. One need not worry that losing our memory then being pitied by our children is just a matter of time. It doesnat need to be that way at all.

Alzheimeras Disease (AD). The absolutely terrible thing about Alzheimeras is that itas the al-Qaeda of brain disorders it attacks (the brain) where it most matters: The parts that control thought, memory and language. Autopsied, the AD brain will show amyloid plaques (clumps) and neurofibrillary tangles (fibers) of abnormal protein. The most important risk factor is age: The number of AD patients double every five years after the age of 65. Family history is also a risk factor. An early-onset familial AD is rare and manifests between ages 30 and 60. The more common variant is late-onset AD. About 5 percent of men and women between 65 and 74 have it. Nearly half of those 85 and older may have it.

Ten Warning Signs. According to the Alzheimeras Association, there are certain actions or inclinations that signal that something is wrong with our beloved aging relatives:

1. memory loss

2. difficulty performing familiar tasks

3. problems with language

4. disorientation to time and place

5. poor or decreased judgment

6. problems with abstract thinking

7. misplacing things

8. changes in mood or behavior

9. changes in personality

10. loss of initiative

Three clinical stages of AD have also been identified. The first is cognitive decline in which thinking is mainly affected. The second stage is functional decline. The person now gets lost using (once familiar) routes. He forgets how to shave or brush his teeth. This is also the stage that a consultation is usually made because the family feels something needs to be done. The last stage is behavioral decline occurring in the last three years of that personas life. …

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