Alzheimer’s, Dementia. The two of the biggest fear words for someone of a certain age and their current or future caregivers. There is so much fear of becoming a mindless vegetable or the caregiver of one that very few people do any clear thinking or planning around the issue.
A good article from the Mayo Clinic addresses this problem. The author clears up some misconceptions about the disease and what it may mean for the elder and the family. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is never a good thing, but it is not necessarily a complete horror for everyone concerned. Good information and a family meeting about the possibility and what to do are important steps.
What about testing for Alzheimer’s? First, testing is not yet well developed enough to give a truly clear diagnosis. There are procedures and home screenings that may be useful, but just because someone is more forgetful does not mean they have Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has a good article on testing.
To me, testing for Alzheimer’s is dodging the real issue. If people find out they have early Alzheimer’s, they are likely to get depressed and withdraw from life, consider suicide, or do as many things they have always wanted to do before it is too late. Not much can be said about the first two, except getting help.
For the third option, doing the dreams, well why isn’t that what the person is doing now or last month? We are all living under a death sentence, so now is the time to be doing the things we always wanted to do. This is especially for retired people who don’t have to go out there every day to make the money.
Carol and I are still working part time because we find our work fulfilling. We do, however, have the time to do a little traveling and having fun. We also find this blog we are writing a way of expressing some creativity and learning about the fields of caregiving, aging, retirement, and the other topics we discuss in this blog.
The blog has induced me to write, something I have always wanted to do but could not find out how to get going. Well, I have been going for two and a half years. Writing. In addition, Carol and I have taken writing classes and plan to take more. I have some other nonfiction interests I want to pursue, and I have one short story first draft and ideas for more. I guess what I am saying is that is never too late for a person to follow your bliss.
The first step is overcoming fear. Fear of disease, fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of taking risks. Life is risky, so I say go for it and “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”