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With the aging of “Boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964/ A.K.A. the Silver Tsunami) the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to almost triple. (13.8 million by 2050) The fifth-leading killer of aging Americans; it destroys brain cells; affecting memory, language, reasoning and behavior. (approximately 5 million Americans every year.) Those are the numbers that are reported. Some familiies hide their ‘problems’ and this area is no different. Excuses are endless. (“senior moment”) Facing this complicated reality is often ignored. My step-dad, Tom started presenting signs of dementia after a stroke. Mom became the brains of their partnership. Against my adamant advice, they embarked on a Baltic cruise in May of 2013. Mom was his ‘keeper’, but she became deathly ill at sea and required immediate hospitalization. The cruise ship was diverted to Stockholm. They were officially disembarked and transported by ambulance to St. Joran’s Hospital. The compassionate doctors were so concerned about Tom literally getting lost without mom, they admitted him to the hospital for ‘safe-keeping’ where he stayed in a bed next to hers. (His own Americian doctor didn’t want to tell him he had Alzheimer’s.) At 7 a.m. on May 27th, I received a phone call from Emma, the Port Agent for the Cruise Lines asking me to come to Sweden and take custody of Tom. After a 4 day stay to stabilze mom, they flew home with a Medical Escort. (Thank goodness for trip insurance!) Mom died March 10, 2014, about 10 months after the cruise. Tom now lives in a ‘Retirement Center.’ I went to visit him yesterday; I go at least once a week. He told me that he had signed some papers that morning. I called my step-sister to ask her what he was talking about. She explained that she had sold mom and Tom’s house. The closing was yesterday. Try to talk to Tom; after a few minutes, you will realize he has some form of dementia. How can anyone with dementia or Alzheimer’s sign a binding legal document? Let’s hope more effective prevention and treatment methods are discovered for Alzheimers! At least 30 state legislatures have adopted plans or task forces to address the disease. “We’re being proactive here in Connecticut,” says Representative Joseph Serra, co-chair of the state’s newly established Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. “I believe we need to get a handle on it before it’s an even bigger problem.” The problems surrounding aging are very complicated with cascading effects. It can unravel families. Start the dialouge with your grown children. Be proactive about your own destiny.

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