Today in Horrifying Alzheimer’s News

by |
06/02/2010 12:57 PM |

Can you imagine forgetting that youd been married to Orson Welles?
  • Can you imagine forgetting that you’d been married to Orson Welles?

Oh, look, an article about new experimental preventive treatments that scientists are hoping will prevent Alzheimer’s Disease! How reassuring, right?

For generations, [early-onset Alzheimer's] has tormented these and thousands of others among a sprawling group of relatives: the world’s largest family to experience Alzheimer’s disease… Most family members come from one Andes region, Antioquia. Geography, and Basque ancestry, have isolated people here, who call themselves paisas, countrymen. Over three centuries, many in this clan of 5,000 people have inherited a single genetic mutation guaranteeing that they will develop Alzheimer’s… Large families, and intermarriage, have accelerated the spread. Mrs. Cuartas’s fourth debilitated child, in Medellín, Carlos Alberto Villegas, a former livestock trader and guitar serenader now often fed by baby bottle, married a distant cousin. His mother-in-law is an addled ghost; three of his wife’s 11 siblings, so far, are developing dementia. With Alzheimer’s in both parents’ families, Mr. Villegas’s three children could face extraordinary risk. One, Natalia, 22, asks: “How long have I got, till I’m 35? There’s no way out.” Memories begin failing in one’s 40s, occasionally as early as 32. By 47, on average, full-blown Alzheimer’s develops.

Christ christ jesus christ. I’m going to scrub my brain out with some placid articles about books. Oh, here’s an author profile at the Guardian. “The Raw Horror of Alzheimer’s.”

Waking up each morning, when you have Alzheimer’s, is like a scene from an amnesiac horror movie, Andrea Gillies suggests in her powerful and disturbing account of two years spent caring for her mother-in-law, Nancy, in the grip of galloping dementia.

Nancy wakes “to find that she has aged 50 years overnight, that her parents have disappeared, that she doesn’t know the woman in the mirror, nor the people who claim to be her husband and children, and has never seen the series of rooms and furnishings that everyone around her claims insistently is her home,” Gillies writes…

I would cheer myself up by taking a walk in the sun but honestly what’s the point if all happy memories are ultimately as temporary as the faulty and doomed braincells that bear them.