By definition, Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for language and information processing, shrivels up and damages areas involved in thinking, planning, and remembering. The hippocampus, critical to the formation of new memories, also shrinks severely.
My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a little over a year ago. Two weeks ago he went to the doctor to take a memory test, which would be compared to his results of the same test he took shortly after being diagnosed. A year ago he could answer 23 out of the 30 questions and this year he was only able to answer 13.
Although I grew up around 600 miles away from my grandpa, we have a very close relationship. I spend almost all of my weekends with him and while we never go a day without having some sort of fun and laughing, it’s still a struggle to see him slowly slip away.
Although my grandpa is considered to be in the early stages, simple day-to-day life becomes more difficult as the disease progresses. During my visits, my grandpa has told me that he has to go to the bathroom and then he’ll end up in the kitchen, completely forgetting what he had gotten up to do. Some nights he forgets where his bedroom is. Even though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, my family still hopes that one day there will be as scientists are now applying their basic understanding of the disease and the way the immune system functions, counting on their recent experiments to one day turn into a cure.