At our age, it‘s common to worry when you can’t remember a name, or you can’t find that word on the tip of your tongue. When that happens, I often ask myself, “Is this normal for my age? Or am I in the early stages of dementia?” And then the more I worry, the more I seem to forget!
To relieve my anxiety, I found an article by Dr. Mike Davis who gives the following three examples demonstrating the distinctions between normal memory loss and dementia.1.) Misplacing keys is normal. Forgetting what they are for is not. 2.) Forgetting a person’s name is normal. Not remembering knowing the person is not. 3.) Forgetting to turn into a familiar street is normal. Becoming easily disoriented or lost in familiar places for hours is not.
Good. I don’t need to worry. I often misplace my keys, but I do know what they are for. I seem to have a harder time remembering names, but they eventually come to me by the end of the conversation. And when I’m in a hurry, there are times I do turn down the wrong street, but so far, I’ve always found my way home.
But then I read the next sentence. “These lines are distinct for most of us, BUT in early dementia patients, it can be tricky to tell.”
Now, what the heck does that mean, tricky to tell? Could my forgetfulness seem normal, but because of some subtle signs, I could unknowingly be in the early stages of dementia? Should I still be worrying?
It does give me pause. But there is one sign that gives me hope. I figure I can spell Alzheimer’s without looking it up, I’m okay.
For those who have been diagnosed with dementia, there is hope. There have been huge investments in understanding more about the brain and what causes Alzheimer’s Disease. There are many theories including lysosomal storage. (I’ll have to ask my son what that means. He just received his degree in biology, so he should know, right?) But the most dominant theory is that Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by sticky brain plaques called beta-amyloid that have been found to build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
Just recently at the urging of the Alzheimer’s Association and other advocates, the FDA approved a new drug, Aducanumab, that has proved highly effective in reducing the plaques to treat persons in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. BUT (there’s always a but!) it’s not yet clear whether reducing the plaques is in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Two large studies offered conflicting evidence.
Next week I will share more about dementia and the brain: the different types of dementia, treatable conditions that mimic dementia, and most importantly tips on what you can do now to maintain your brain health. Don’t forget!
The name of the five-member band known for their vocal harmonies and epitomized the “California Sound” were the Beach Boys. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Jeannie Pesicka, Emmett Sampson, Rhonda Spies, Sandy Haechrel, Barbara Cadwell, Diana Weston, Jess Birge, Dave Lutgens, Tiiu , Margo Dameier. And this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket be Linda Frizzell who graduated from Hawthorne High School with the Beach Boys! And from the previous week, I received the correct answer from Barbara Cadwell, Susan Ellis, Steve Woolpert, Patty Burnet, Diana Weston, Gene Uczen, Pat Evenson-Brady, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, Doug Nelson, and the winner Lana Tepfer.
Okay, the Beach Boys was way too easy for most of you so let’s move to something more challenging: Broadway musicals. This original 1965 Broadway production won five Tony Awards including Best Musical. Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th-century novel Don Quixote, it tells the story of the “mad” knight Don Quixote. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this musical. E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a recording of “The Impossible Dream”.
Well, it has been another week, glad to be back in the Gorge. Until we meet again, as Dan Jaworski who was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment at age 54 says, “There is no day like today”.
“If people were meant to pop out of bed, we’d all sleep in toasters”. Unknown