Tag Archives: dementia

Alzheimer’s inflicts collateral damage

Long ago I pledged to use this blog as a forum to advocate for Alzheimer’s disease research. Why? Because it affects me directly along with members of my family who have suffered the agony of watching loved ones get sick and die from this merciless killer.

I lost my mother to it. Her younger brother died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease just a couple of years ago. My aunt has just been diagnosed with the disease. One of my dearest friends — a with whom I go back more than 60 years — is now watching his mother wither away from the disease.

You see, Alzheimer’s disease afflicts not just its victims. The collateral damage it inflicts goes far beyond the number of actual “victims” of the disease.

Last I heard, about 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. Multiply that figure by many times … two, three, four or five, whatever.

Then you come up with a number more closely representing the total casualty count delivered by Alzheimer’s.

Loved ones suffer the most | High Plains Blogger

Thus, as the nation ages — as it is doing — you see the numbers of Alzheimer’s patients increasing. Just as critically, we will witness the number of affected loved ones increase even more dramatically.

The Alzheimer’s patient loses his or her cognitive ability over time. It’s the loved one who cares for his or her spouse, the parent, the sibling or even the extended member of the family who needs help. Is the government ever going to be prepared to offer them counseling, or advice, or wisdom?

Yes, this disease harms so many Americans in so many ways and at so many levels.

We need to stay busy looking for a cure.


Loved ones suffer the most

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.


Let’s end the ‘dementia’ crap!

I am going to take dead aim at those who continue to toss a horrible and offensive epithet at President Biden. It’s the word “dementia” or some derivative of that term.

The term sickens me. It should sicken anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one to any sort of neurological disorder that results in the loss of cognition. My family and I have suffered such a loss and when I hear dimwits hurl the “dementia” epithet at the president, my blood comes to a full boil.

I hear it from some of my Facebook acquaintances. Those who read this post, therefore, can consider themselves put on notice. If I hear it from them from this moment forward, then I believe I will sever that “relationship” effective immediately.

I also hear it from public officials. The most notable of them happens to be a member of Congress who represents a district where I once lived, in the Texas Panhandle. Republican Ronny Jackson, a one-time physician and naval officer, keeps hurling that term at the president. I don’t know Jackson, but he makes me sick. He sickens me because as a physician, he should know better than to offer some form of “diagnosis” from afar, without any insider knowledge of someone’s health record.

Yes, the president is the oldest man to hold the office. I have noted before on this blog that the president is on top of his game.

I am just fed up to here with an epithet that is cruel beyond measure.


Jack Hanna adds face to heartache

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s happened … again.

Every now and then, a celebrity of considerable note announces he or she is “retiring” from public life. You want to know why. Well, the latest such high-profile retirement comes from famed naturalist Jack Hanna, who this week has announced he is suffering from dementia that has progressed into Alzheimer’s disease.

This one hits me straight in the heart.

I once declared my intention to speak to this issue on my blog. My mother died of Alzheimer’s complications. That was nearly 37 years ago. She was 61 years of age when she left us.

Jack Hanna’s ailment is sure to bring attention once again to this killer. It has afflicted 6 million Americans; the number of Alzheimer’s victims is expected to triple in the next three decades.

What receives precious little attention to this disease, though, is the impact it has on family members of those who are caught in its merciless grip. So, for every single Alzheimer’s disease patient who is battling this monstrous killer, it affects those near them. The effect is profound. Take my word for it.

Do we devote enough attention to Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia? No. We don’t. Our society is aging. This disease is a tragic consequence of advancing years.

Celebrities would gather and sing songs to raise money for AIDS research. They have raised money to help the homeless and the hungry. Crowds are marching against discrimination and hatred against racial and ethnic minorities. These are noble and worthwhile causes.

No one appears to be doing these things to fight a killer that is as merciless and cruel as anything one can imagine.

We must do more at every level to fight dementia at all levels.

The latest celebrity’s affliction will call appropriate attention once more to it. I will pray not just for Jack Hanna, but also for those who love him.

Boxing: once fun to watch, now it’s unwatchable

There once was a time when I would glue myself to the TV set when professional boxing was on the air.

That was a long time ago. Quite obviously, I was much younger. I didn’t appreciate fully a brutal aspect of the sport I loved to watch: the men who fought inflicted terrible damage to the other guy’s brain; and they received equal amounts of terrible damage from the other guy’s fists.

That was then.

So many of the athletes I used to watch — some of whom I admired, truth be told — now are gone. They fell victim to pugilistic dementia, which is another way say they had their brains scrambled.

Fighters aren’t suffering such punishment more frequently these days. I am just older now, perhaps a bit wiser (which often is merely a benefit of growing old) and also I am less bloodthirsty than I was as a kid.

I’ll spare you the gripes I have about boxing’s governing bodies and how the sport has morphed into a sort of “participation trophy” of sports. That is, there are more “world champions” at every weight class than I can count. There once was a time when the heavyweight champion of the world was the baddest man on Earth; Muhammad Ali didn’t have to brag about being “bad” … he just was.

But I no longer can stomach the sight of two grown men beating other’s brains’ out.

I no longer watch videos of some of my favorite pro fighters from back in the day. I can barely watch fights of The Greatest — Muhammad Ali — knowing what became of him as he grew older. Yes, he died of Parkinson’s disease and reportedly did not lose any cognitive ability, but I do believe his fatal ailment was accelerated by the punishment he took at the end of his career.

Boxing once was a thrill to watch. These days, it gives me the creeps.

Mental health exams for presidents? Absolutely!

Set aside for a moment the questions that have arisen about the current president of the United States, about whether he still possesses all his marbles.

The White House doctor says he does. That’s good enough for me.

CNN polled Americans and learned that 80 percent of us favor regular mental acuity examinations for presidents. Count me as strongly in favor of that idea.

The exams could help determine whether a president is showing signs of dementia, loss of mental snap, whether he is less alert. I’m all for it!

When is it too early? I don’t think you should set a minimum age for such exams. Donald J. Trump is 71 years of age. He clearly falls into the category of Americans susceptible to loss of cognitive skill.

I’ll pass along this personal tidbit.

My dear mother died in September 1984 — at age 61 — of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She had become a mere shell of the woman she once was. She didn’t recognize anyone. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t feed herself, bathe or dress herself. Eventually, she developed pneumonia after her brain ceased telling her lungs to breathe.

Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the spring of 1980, when she was not quite 57 years of age. In truth, she had been showing some serious sign of personality disorder and loss of cognition at least three, maybe four years earlier. That meant she might have been showing early onset symptoms at the age of, oh, 53 or 54.

Most of us are still in the prime of life at that age. Not everyone is dealt that kind of good fortune. Mom clearly was dealt an extremely bad hand.

Thus, when the president of the United States is handed the nuclear launch codes and is put in command of the world’s most formidable military machine, I want to know whether he is up to the job.

By all means, we need to look inside their noggins regularly.

Alzheimer’s claims another celebrity

A dreaded disease that needs intense national attention has taken another noted celebrity.

Glen Campbell died today at the age of 81. He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a merciless, ruthless killer that afflicts about 4 million Americans. That number is going to increase as the nation’s median age continues to rise.

My blog post today isn’t so much about Campbell as it is about the disease that killed him. I’ve written to you many times over the years about Alzheimer’s disease. I take news such as Campbell’s death very personally.

My mother died of Alzheimer’s complications on Sept. 17, 1984. She was 61 years of age at the time of her death. She was diagnosed formally only in the spring of 1980 but truth be told Mom exhibited some strange behavior shifts for years prior to the neurologist’s grim diagnosis.

The federal budget doesn’t devote nearly the amount of money I would prefer for research into finding a cure for this neurological disease. Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t get the kind of attention it needs, either. Why is that? Its victims generally are older. They are susceptible to this killer. We used to pass it off as merely age-related dementia.

I will tell you this as well: Its victims aren’t just the individuals it strikes without warning; they also are the loved ones who care for them. The afflicted individuals eventually do not know they are in dire peril. They don’t know their family members. They lose their cognitive ability … all of it. In my mother’s case, she lost the ability to speak.

This disease is as ugly as they come.

The only blessing in Glen Campbell’s death is that we’re talking yet again about the disease that killed him. May this conversation translate — finally! — into meaningful commitment to finding a cure.