“If you had to choose between death or life with a severe disability, which one would you select?” When asked this question, most people would likely answer that death is preferable to being severely disabled. This reflects the widely held view within society that the thought of living out one’s life with a severe disability is much scarier than death.
For the author of this article, having already entered old age, Alzheimer’s disease is the scariest illness. This is because other severe illnesses that can result in much more serious symptoms than Alzheimer’s disease – such as cancer – still allow the patient to retain one’s dignity. Alzheimer’s disease, however, can destroy many facets of our personality, including the knowledge we’ve accumulated over a lifetime, our physical abilities and also our dignity. It gradually eats away the afflicted individual, until the person loses all faculties and independence, leaving the sufferer as vulnerable as a newborn baby in its crib.
The brain has many functions. It regulates nearly all the various bodily organs at the same time as giving us our humanity by enabling a higher level of sentience than other living creatures, due to the way the brain is wired. The brain’s memory is actually a system of cells, consisting of millions and millions of individual cells, allowing us to not only remember huge amounts of information and data, but also to think, regulate mood and control behavior.
Alzheimer’s disease, therefore, not only affects memory, but also impairs and slows down our thought processes, leading to impairment of decision making, a reduction of intelligence and an inability to regulate mood, resulting in an increasingly irrational behavior. All of these symptoms gradually deteriorate until the sufferer loses their faculties, ending up completely vulnerable, losing all dignity, and finally becoming entirely dependent on others before the disease eventually takes the Alzheimer’s patient’s life.
This is why Alzheimer’s disease is such a terrifying prospect for anyone with any standing within society. The medical profession has performed extensive research to find ways to prevent and treat the disease, resulting in findings which conclude that the earlier the condition can be diagnosed, the better the chances of relieving symptoms and slowing the disease’s development.
Furthermore, it has been found that in some cases, early diagnosis and treatment may even allow a return to full health.
The various forms of dementia can be categorized into two major groups: the treatable or curable group, and the incurable group with symptoms that in some cases can only be relieved, so as to allow an improved quality of life for the sufferer. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of condition which falls under the latter classification.
Of the major symptoms of dementia is a form of memory loss which differs greatly from someone who is merely forgetful. We all have elderly friends and relatives who can be affected by this condition. For this reason, it is important for all of us to be on the lookout for the following 10 dementia-related symptoms of memory loss:
The First Class Honors M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Chiangmai University, 1972.