- October 10, 2019
- Posted by: Michael Gunning
- Category: Senior Advice
Living with Alzheimer’s disease is extremely difficult for individuals who become affected, as well as for their loved ones. However, setting aside some time early in the diagnosis to fight for the cause and beyond, a family can feel better knowing they’ve done everything they can to support their loved one.
You might not know it but September is World Alzheimer’s Month. As the month has now passed, it’s important to not forget about the fight to cure Alzheimer’s. Medical research and advocacy are two vital causes you can support. This is a disease that you and your loved ones might have to face directly, if you have not already. Prior planning can help your family with the extensive economic toll and the unique legal ramifications of Alzheimer’s.
According to a recent Forbes article, Alzheimer’s is as widespread as it is demanding. Consider this: 1 American citizen develops Alzheimer’s every 69 seconds. The symptoms are oftentimes subtle, at least initially. Some estimate that more than 13 million Americans will have the disease by 2050 and run up as much as $1 trillion in costs. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, most of the costs and problems won’t develop until later in the person’s life. Nevertheless, significant planning must take place at the time of diagnosis, if not anticipated beforehand.
So, what is the scope of this “significant planning”? First, you will need to secure medical care, both for now and for the future. That means fundamental financial planning need to be addressed, to include securing government benefits like Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance. Second, because of Alzheimer’s progressive cognitive degeneration, estate planning must occur early in the process to secure and protect family assets.
Fundamentally, it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not the same as other diseases. Through it all, competent counsel will be necessary to properly assess the needs and possibilities, as well as to ensure that everything is in place when needed most.
Alzheimer’s & Memory Loss
It has never been clear what exactly happens to an Alzheimer’s patient’s memories, but scientists might be close to a discovery.
One of the enduring mysteries surrounding Alzheimer’s Disease, is what happens to a person’s memories when they suffer from the disease. For a long time, the prevailing view was that the disease erased the memories completely.
However, there is now reason to believe that the memories are still present.
The patient just cannot recall them for some reason, according to a new study conducted on mice as reported by the Washington Post in “Scientists reawaken memory in mice that had a condition resembling Alzheimer’s.”
The scientists genetically engineered mice, so they would have a condition similar to Alzheimer’s. They then introduced a lemon to the mice and gave the mice a small electric shock, so the mice would associate the scent of lemons with being shocked.
When the scientists later gave the mice lemons, the mice did not appear to remember the shock, until the scientists used a laser to stimulate the neuron in the brains of the mice that were associated with the original memory.
When they gave the mice lemons again, the mice did seem to remember the shock and act in anticipation of it. This suggests that the memories of Alzheimer’s patients are not erased, but the patients just are not able to access the memories. That could one day help researchers develop a cure for the disease that might allow people to access their memories again.