Some disease inflicts maximum pain on its direct victims. You know what they are.
Others inflict its maximum damage on those who care for those victims. Yes, I refer to Alzheimer’s disease.
I just got word the other day that a beloved member of my family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We haven’t seen her in a couple of years; she and her husband and children and grandchildren live in the Pacific Northwest, about 1,600 miles from us in North Texas.
We don’t know many of the particulars of my aunt’s condition, other than her husband of more than 60 years is in dire emotional straits.
My immediate family and I know all too well the pain that this disease inflicts on those who love its victims. My mother died of complications from it in 1984. She was 61 years old when she died. She likely had early-onset symptoms perhaps a decade or so. We were young and not too alert to the disease. Then a neurologist gave us the diagnosis in early 1980, telling us the grim news all at once: There is no cure and there is no hope for survival.
Why bring all this up? Because millions more Americans suffer the agony than the number of victims of this hideous, insidious and merciless killer. It is always fatal. Modern medicine has no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although therapies keep emerging that prolong the quality of life of those afflicted with the disease.
As the nation continues to grow older, the cases of this form of dementia are bound to increase. And yes … I want to put additional pressure on our scientific community to step its efforts to seek a cure to end the epidemic of misery that is going to envelop this nation over time.
I am left to pray that my aunt, my uncle their three children can latch onto an improved therapy to help her cope with her loss of cognition.
It also can help them await an inevitable outcome with some measure of comfort. They suffer grievous emotional pain watching the essence of their loved one disappear in real time.