Several days ago, a friend of mine who's in his mid-fifties told me that he always puts his car keys in the refrigerator. This struck me as the kind of behavior I've heard about from really stressed out moms and my late grandmother, who died of Alzheimer's, not a hip, successful boomer. But he explained that he did it simply because that's how he reminds himself to take his lunch to work (he prepares his daily lunch each night before going to bed).
It certainly seems like a clever solution to a common problem. Still, I can't help thinking there's no way I'd tell people I do that. It seems every little quirky, unexpected thing like that makes people think, "I wonder if she's losing it."
We boomers live in fear of being diagnosed with Alzheimers. Too many of us have watched our grandparents die with it and some of us are already dealing with parents who are showing signs of dimentia or Alzheimers. Now, there's evidence that our fear is not unfounded. We boomers are actually now regarded as "Generation Alzheimers." One out of every eight of us will die with or from the disease. And unlike other common boomer diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart conditions, there's really nothing we can do about it. There's no cure; in fact, there's not even a known way to signficantly slow the progression of the disease.
Many of us will spend our retirement years either fighting Alzheimer's ourselves, or caring for someone who has it.I feel very fortunate that my parents, both in their mid-80s, haven't shown signs of having this awful disease, even though both can be a little forgetful now and then. My mom even jokes that one of the great things about being over 80 is that you no longer have to worry about early onset of Alzheimer's! It's too late!
Recently, the Alzheimer's Association released the results of a study called Generation Alzheimers: the Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers. It's quite enlightening, even scary. According to the findings $172 billion is spent annually on and by the 5.2 million people with Alzheimers! Predictions are that Alzheimer's will cost $20 trillion over the next 40 years. Wow! Moreover, It's the 6th leading cause of death.
Many of us "sort of" joke about having Alzheimer's when we misplace things, forget a loved one's birthday, or have dificulty recalling someone's name.So, I was a bit relieved to discover the association's 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's. Somehow it made me feel more confident that my occasional memory lapses are probably more the result of being 54 and very busy.
Boomers should pay attention to this new study and understand the risk factors of getting Alzheimer's. Turns out that the disease most often strikes after age 65, and 2011 is the first year boomers reach that age. It's not a normal part of aging, though most people do seem to write off forgetfulness as an inevitable part of getting older.
I'd encourage you to check out this important study and stay on top of the signs of this awful disease.