Most of you have likely heard of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), maybe in passing or because someone you love has been diagnosed with this disease. To those who have not heard or are not aware, Alzheimer’s is the degradation of brain cell connectors and the cells themselves. This disease eventually destroys the affected person’s memory and other important mental capabilities. Unfortunately, no cure exists at this time, but medications and treatment may temporarily help stabilize a patient’s symptoms.
I would love to be able to tell you with complete certainty that focusing on your health and wellness will prevent this disease, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. While strategies for physical and mental fitness are common in hopes of preventing Alzheimer’s, the mechanism underlying these strategies is poorly understood. That means, focusing on your wellness may slow down the degradation process, but no one has a good reason why or any idea what techniques work best. My suggestion? Talk to a fitness or nutritional professional or your doctor about ideas and plans to address your personal health and wellness. The intent of this blog is not to lay out the perfect wellness plan to combat Alzheimer’s because such a thing doesn’t exist yet. The intent of this blog is to bring awareness to the severity of this disease and the lack of research that has currently been done to help those in need. We need to be able to cure this disease! We need to know what we can do to prevent this from affecting more families! Why am I so insistent? Because this is already affecting my family and I would like to give you a personal glance into what it really looks like to have a loved one diagnosed with this disease.
My family and I found out two years ago that my dad was diagnosed with AD. We were all shocked by the news. We didn’t know what to expect or how to handle it. From that moment until now, my family has had to adjust itself to this disease and learn how to approach it towards my dad. As a family, we continue to treat my dad as what he is, our dad/husband. We have learned that Alzheimer’s is a 24-hour job that is in no way easy. But we have also learned to give ourselves each a time away to refresh because we simply cannot afford to become burnt out. My dad is suffering through this disease and we need to be ready and able to help through every step of the process.
I know I need to get away for an hour or so every once in a while and I use that time to focus on my health so I’m fit to help my dad. Fitness has played a large role in my life over the last two years. The gym is where I can de-stress; I can get all my anger, sadness, or whatever out. I have a gym family that greets me as soon as I walk in and fills me with positive energy that I can bring back home. I come home refreshed and over the past couple months, this has been critical.
In the past couple months my dad’s Alzheimer’s has progressed more and more. Some of the signs we noticed were my dad losing the ability to write or perform simple daily tasks he always used to do. He also always needs someone, like my mom or me, near him or he starts to get anxious. There are other consequences of this disease that we have been able to find some peace in. We have discovered what brings my dad joy and what he loves to do. He loves going on walks, coloring, watching boxing, playing the piano and simply spending time with us.
Alzheimer’s is a sad disease to watch someone suffer through and is particularly hard on the caregivers. You watch as someone you love loses memories and abilities they’ve always had. I feel frustrated when I have to repeat myself multiple times and angry with myself for feeling that way because I know none of this is my dad’s fault. What I have never lost is the knowledge that my dad is my dad and will always be my dad. As a family, we take it day by day and have learned to cherish each moment and not take life for granted. Our family has been forced to learn how hard it is to care for someone who has AD, but luckily we have also become stronger by it. Please help raise money to find a cure for AD, so someday other families won’t know what it’s like to have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.