The Memory Loss Tapes: The Heartbreaking Struggles of Patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. We recap the first episode of The Alzheimer’s Project on HBO
Life is about building memories.
At one point in our lives, we would come to a realization that some of the most beautiful things in this world are not associated with material things or money. They are moments and memories. As a son of a woman who has been caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia for a long time now, I have realized this fact early on in life. Perhaps seeing how some people struggled to even remember their names is one of the reasons why I pursued my profession today. I am a memory coach, and my goal in life is to help people reduce the risks or likelihood of acquiring memory loss-related diseases by harnessing the power of our brain.
Perhaps you might think that you are far from getting your memory disrupted, especially if you don’t have family or relatives with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. While there is a hereditary component to these diseases, medical professionals and scientists claim that these conditions have lifestyle and environmental factors as well.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia both damage the brain, gradually disrupting the thinking skills and memory of an individual. The brain cells deteriorate faster than the average pace of aging, and the patient loses their ability to hold on to memories.
Seeing with my own eyes the heartbreaks associated with these diseases, I set out on a journey to help reduce the number of patients being hit by these devastating conditions. As part of my mission, I want to share some stories of patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, hoping that their battles could encourage people to be more aware of the implications. These stories had been featured in HBO’s Project Alzheimer’s Episode 1entitled, The Memory Loss Tapes.
- Let’s start with an 87-year old woman who had trouble remembering the names of the president back in the ’90s. This poor lady even had no idea what a calculator is. Experts tested her memory by showing her some words. She failed to remember even one word despite being shown to her just a few seconds ago.
- Then, there’s this 82-year old grandfather who seemed to forget that he’s forgetful. He wants to drive, claiming that he had done so most of his life. The medical assistants allowed him to do so, but when he got behind the wheel, he looked as if he had seen a stirring wheel and a car’s dashboard for the first time.
- Another heartbreaking story was that of a 63-year-old male who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018. Having felt the early signs, this man used to write blogs, leaving notes for his family. His grandchildren used to take him in the park, but the man would often get lost and wonder where he was and who he was with.
- A 75-year old woman has been put under a delusional state as an effect of Alzheimer’s. She used to talk to herself in the mirror, thinking that she’s talking to a colleague. She would set dates, such as eating in the cafeteria, then would cry herself out when the “friend” fail to show up.
- An 81-year old singer completely forgot his profession he’d loved all his life. His family would often come to the center to take him out for a quick private performance. There are times when the man would sing but completely forgot that he did so when he returns to the center. He would just say to his family that he had a great day, without knowing the particular reason why.
- Then, there’s this soccer player who has mastered everything about the game, and it seemed that Alzheimer’s didn’t affect his memory of the sport he had loved so much. He can still remember the terminologies, but his brain failed him when it comes to her daughter. He would often ask who is the woman was visiting him at the center, and the lady could only cry silently.
- Another woman shared the story of her mom, who used to be a painter before Alzheimer’s ultimately snatched her away from her passion and profession. The mother loved to use rocks as a canvas. So, when the daughter found a beautiful stone, she rushed to her mother and showed it with extreme delight, hoping to spark even a glimpse of memory. To her shock, her mom quickly took the rock to her mouth and started to chew it, thinking it was bread.
- Then, the episode reached its climax when they featured a patient who died four weeks before the airing of the documentary. He was once a magician and wasn’t even showing signs of rapid brain deterioration when the disease snatched his life away.
These real-life stories show that it is not only the patients who suffer. The mental, physical, and emotional impacts on their family members are as damaging as well. So, whether we know someone who has this disease or not, we must not underestimate Alzheimer’s and Dementia as it could hit us, and it might be too late to slow it down.
While there are no known cures for these diseases as of today, experts agree that brain training activities, complemented with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Do you know of anyone that struggles with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or any other memory loss related condition or disease?