I am a retired physician and an emeritus professor of medicine. I also have Alzheimer's disease.
Before my diagnosis, I was certainly familiar with the disease, having seen patients with Alzheimer's over the years in my internal medicine practice. But I was slow to suspect my own affliction.
Now that I've been diagnosed, I can trace my problems back some 10 years, to when I was 76. I had been chairing a monthly program in medical ethics, and I knew most of the speakers and found it easy and enjoyable to introduce them. Then, suddenly, I found I had to rely on prepared material to make the introductions. I started to forget names, though never faces. These kinds of lapses are common in aging brains, so it was easy for me to write them off to "senior moments"...
Since my improvement, I have developed a list of insights I'd like to share with others facing memory problems.
•Carry a small book and write notes whenever there's something you want to recall later.
•When you cannot remember a name, make a joke and ask the person to repeat it, then write it down.
•If you cannot walk, exercise in bed.
•Draw and paint.
•Garden, if you can.
•Do puzzles and games.
•Try new things.
•Organize your day.
•Learn to prepare food, eat, dress, wash and go to bed in an efficient way.
•Eat a healthful diet that includes fish twice a week, fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.
•A reliable and good-humored book on a serious subject is "The Memory Bible" by Dr. Gary Small.
Don't withdraw from your friends and your family. This is advice I had to learn the hard way. Afraid of being pitied, I tried to keep my condition a secret, and that meant pulling away from people I cared about. But now that I've decided to be open, I've been gratified to see how accepting people are and how willing to assist.
For the full-length story, go to http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/27/opinion/la-oe-adv-rivin-alzheimers-20100627
Alzheimer's A Caretakers Journal
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