Nov 20, 2009

My Alzheimer's Awareness Television Ad

Mi sento agitata....

ByBob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

I'm feeling agitated. This is when my stomach starts bothering me. I am also suffering from a case of deja vu.

Yesterday I published an article -- Study of aging in Group Health patients aims to prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's -- and the following words are stuck in my mind.
When older people cannot walk except very slowly, this predicts that they are likely to become "frail" (weak and prone to diseases) and develop dementia.
This reminds me of when I first noticed my mother was scrapping her feet on the ground. A sound that was so disconcerting it had me worried. My sister Joanne also noticed the sound.

I asked everyone, what do you think? They all said the same thing -- she's getting old.

I accepted this. Nevertheless, for more than a year I was thinking about it all the time.

You might ask -- well why didn't you take her to the doctor? She went to the doctor five times during that year. Guess what her doctor said when I finally asked him about it. Good guess -- she's getting old.

I wrote about walking and balance many times on this website -- Changes in Walking and Balance Can be a Sign of Alzheimer's and Dementia.

...early detection of balance problems may lead to earlier detection of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Thinking about this led me to envision an advertisement for Alzheimer's Awareness.

Something that might actually catch the attention of people that are worried about their elderly loved one. People that suspect something is wrong, or going wrong. An advertisement that might have some impact, or make a difference.

Here is my television script.

Ad comes on. Black screen. The sound of my mother's feet scrapping across the concrete. That eerie sound.

The picture comes on. A shot of my mother and me walking -- I am holding her hand. We are walking very slowly.

I turn and start talking.

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver.

I put may arm around my mother's shoulder. This is my mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, she suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Prior to her dementia diagnosis my mother started scrapping her feet on the ground. In 2002, she walked 30 blocks in New York city without a problem. In late 2003, I finally realized she couldn't walk a block. She fell and couldn't get up without assistance.

At the same time, she was still driving her car. Still doing her own shopping. Still taking herself to bingo on Wednesday night. And, still living on her own.

Finally, I had her doctor give her a physical. She was in good health. He explained the problem to me this way -- she is getting old. He told me he could order her a walker.

A year and three doctors later we learned that my mother was suffering from dementia -- probable Alzheimer's disease.

Don't make the same mistake I made. If your elderly loved one starts scraping their feet on the ground, starts walking slowly, or starts having problems with their balance -- get their memory tested. Get their memory tested by a specialist -- not your family doctor.

Early detection of Alzheimer's or dementia is imperative to maintain a good quality of life. Early detection and treatment makes a difference.

Just ask yourself this question.

If you were in an early stage of Alzheimer's would you want your family to have you tested?

Or, would you rather fall into the black hole of dementia while everyone sits around saying -- she is just getting old.

The television ad closes with an 800 number that actually goes to someone that can tell you where and how to get tested, and the sound of my mother's feet scrapping the concrete.

Who knows, maybe sell some Aricept while we are at it.

Ask the next ten people you see that are not involved in medicine or caregiving if they know which month is Alzheimer's awareness month, and when they hold national Alzheimer's screening day.

You comments are welcome.

Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 950 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room