Perspective on Memory Loss

There are many different causes of memory loss, but they all rob individuals of the family, friends, and experiences that we treasure. Many of us will care for loved ones experiencing some form of memory loss and this video offers a sobering account of what it means to lose our most cherished memories.

It's a fact that 1 out of 3 people will develop some form of dementia. Memory loss is a growing concern that cannot continue to be underfunded in terms of research and health care. Advances have been made to identify Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, but the pace of this research has been far too slow. New drugs are being introduced that slow the onset of some forms of dementia, but a cure remains elusive.

Effective treatments remain elusive in part because we are not doing enough. The US funds almost 20% of the NIH's cancer research and 10% of its HIV research. These are certainly worthwhile diseases that deserve our attention, but Alzheimer's research receives less then 2% funding annually.

One man in particular, Michael Ellenbogen, has dedicated himself to raising not only awareness, but funding too, for Alzheimer's research, as he explains in his 2012 video. Michael was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease (YOAD) in 2008 after suffering early symptoms and multiple misdiagnoses for 10 years.

He has been referred to as the "World Renowned Alzheimer's Advocate" for his tireless efforts to improve much needed funding for research through the world. Micheal openly shares his story during interviews, speeches, and in social media - and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down. In fact, Michael has just published his first book, "From the Corner Office to Alzheimer's", describing his personal journey from being a manager at a Fortune 500 company to being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is an amazingly honest and touching account of his experiences.

I would tell you that it is a must read, but the summary written by Dr. Pierre N. Tariot conveys my feelings about this book so much better.

Imagine having a mysterious illness take over your mind. Over the next 10 years, you try to navigate a health care and social system that is not equipped to address what is happening to you. As you slowly lose your ability to think and remember, you have to try to hide the losses to protect you and your family financially. You encounter doctors who are at best baffled, and order a series of nonspecific, redundant, and uninformative studies.

If you want to know what it is like to walk in the shoes of one person with Alzheimer’s, read this book, whether you are a patient, care partner, doctor, or other health provider. It is raw and scary, as well as inspiring, given the self-disclosure. As well as describing, sometimes painfully and in harrowing detail, what we are doing wrong, it can tell us a great deal about what we need to do differently going forward. Every individual with an illness like Alzheimer’s deserves a prompt, thorough, empathic, and well-informed evaluation. Every family needs and deserves support. Every reasonable research question should be pursued.

At the close of his book, Michael Ellenbogen says that, “I would like to be remembered for influencing change…and helping others.” I think that he will be."

Category: Alzheimer's and Dementia

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