It’s still common for people to believe only the “old” get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, I’m reading more stories these days of younger people in their 30s being diagnosed. These stories always bring tears to my eyes because those diagnosed usually have young families — children younger than ten.
My mom just turned 72, and while her memory is becoming steadily worse, she’s lived a full and interesting life. For two weeks in late November last year, she remembered stuff I didn’t even remember — where she got a certain picture, who gave her a cute ornament. It was a great two weeks of normal conversation, but after those two weeks her memory flipped to forgetting what she just said to me. I’m thankful for those two weeks of having my mom; even though I know my mom will never get better, a small part of me hoped she would.
Some days my mom tells me her plans for the future, “When I get better, I’m going to help others with Alzheimer’s.” I encourage her plans because it’s something she enjoys discussing. Right now, all I can do is enjoy the time she has and the conversation she can provide because eventually she will forget how to form words and conduct a conversation.
Mom had time to prepare for Alzheimer’s, seeing her own mother go through it. Mom bought insurance for long-term care, started writing in a Memory Book early on, and eventually asked for help when she needed it. When I read about these young people in their 30s diagnosed and dying before 40, I think of how they didn’t have time to prepare and save money for the expensive care that is needed. They didn’t get to see their kids grow up, graduate, and get married. Their young spouses and children are left behind to grieve and that breaks my heart.
We need to find a cure for this disease as it’s not going away anytime soon.
This is the story that broke my heart this morning: “My Husband Was Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s–At 36,” by Alexandra Rockey Flemming, published in Good Housekeeping.