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Laughter and Forgetting
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 1:44 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source: SeattleMet) - When Sharon Monaghan turned 50, she got just what she wanted: a sailboat ride across Elliott Bay followed by a birthday bash with 30 of her closest friends. Her friend Priscilla noticed that Sharon told her the same story three times over the course of a few hours. Priscilla asked Sharon if she wanted to be told when she was repeating herself. "____ no," Sharon responded.

What Priscilla didn't know was that this repetition problem had been going on for months. She didn't know that Sharon and her partner Cathie had worked out a secret signal - if Cathie held up two fingers, that meant Sharon was telling a story for the second time. Three fingers meant it was the third time. But on this night Cathie wasn't next to Sharon, ready to signal.


Sharon and Cathie still believed the repetition might be an aftereffect of the drug therapy and radiation Sharon had undergone when she was treated for breast cancer six years earlier. But more alarming things started to happen: lapses in memory and judgment and breakdowns in problem-solving skills. Then this past Memorial Day on a camping trip, she suddenly didn't know where she was.


Sharon's PET scan confirmed what the doctor had suspected, but dreaded telling her 52-year-old patient: Sharon had probable younger-onset Alzheimer's disease, cause unknown.


People with younger-onset Alzheimer's disease are uniquely vulnerable on a number of fronts. They could be fired for poor performance before a diagnosis confirms that they have a legitimate medical disability; years away from eligibility for Medicare they may not have long-term care insurance; and their children are too young to be major sources of support.


Most of us think of Alzheimer's disease is a disease affecting only elders. However, younger-onset Alzheimer's is on the rise: At least 200,000 Americans currently living with the disease are 65 or younger.


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