What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

I’m not sure Dr. Alois Alzheimer, if he were alive today, would be happy to have his name immortalized with this sad, incurable (so far) disease. Alois, in 1906, theorized correctly, the brain of a dead woman who had memory loss, language confusion, and bizarre behavior was due to plaques and tangles in her brain which destroyed brain neuron connections. Often called “dementia” it’s now thought most likely to be Alzheimer’s Disease”, but not always.His name sake is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly sucks the cognitive skills from a person leading to the inability to perform the simplest tasks like naming an eating utensil, reasoning, talking, remembering, dressing, eating, and eventually giving instructions to organs, thus leading to death.

I noticed Dad’s symptoms in his mid 60’s. He was a lawyer and I would have lunch with him a couple times a month. We would go to lunch in his downtown San Diego office building cafeteria. Why would he hesitate and be unsure what to eat? He had eaten there for over 15 years. Why would he not know the name of a “spoon”? There are many manifestations of initial Alzheimer’s Disease”. Thankfully his were reasonably mild. After a workup at theUCSD Alzheimer research clinic he was reported to the DMV to have his license pulled because he had been officially diagnose, most likely, with Alzheimer’s Disease – only to be confirm under the microscope after death. He, with my assistance, drove for 4 more years, passing the DMV’s annual test. My brothers and I agreed he still drove better and safer than Mom. A small victory in losing a big war.

Leave a Reply