Alzheimer’s scares me. I think it should scare everyone. Our memories ground us into a reality (regardless of how we have constructed it). Yet Alzheimer’s is a disease that makes us unrecognizable to ourselves and robs us of our memories and corresponding stability. Alzheimer’s is the result of brain cell connections and the cells themselves degenerating and dying, eventually destroying memory and other important mental functions. According to the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer as a cause of death for older people. Sadly, there is no cure. Yet.
This past week, Alzheimer’s research and scientific studies have been in the news. Although, many probably didn’t catch the news considering all the other things that have been occurring and collectively draining our attention span. For instance, researchers reported this past week that a bacterium largely responsible for gum disease also contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s. Seems that we really need to get past our fears of going to the dentist. There have been podcasts on how Alzheimer’s can occur in generation after generation in a family. I can’t imagine such sadness and loss of family memories.
What captured my attention was a report that there may be a test (testing for a certain protein in the blood) that ca be used to predict whether one will get Alzheimer’s in 15 to 16 years. Considering that there is no cure, would you want such a test? What happens if these proteins are found? How do you react and then prepare? For one, I would worry as to whether one would be covered by health insurance thereafter. Assuming that one can still get health insurance, preparing for a life that one may soon forget can cause tremendous anxiety day in and day out. Or so I would imagine. Sure, one can argue that knowing allows one to prepare one’s affairs. Sure, one can argue that knowing would allow one to live one’s life fully. But why shouldn’t we live fully anyway?
I am not too sure I would want to know. But I would have to promise myself to live a joyous day and strive for nothing to take away said joy. I think that is doable. I hope.