When the World Disappears

A few years ago, I wrote about a lawyer in his 40s who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. We met for lunch at an oceanside restaurant  and watched a restless surge of waves breaking in eternal conversation with the man about to lose his history.

Man gazing out sad profile

“It’s all fading away,” he said to me. And indeed it was. Names and faces were vanishing in what he described as a blue mist that was ever deepening around him, allowing only a silhouhette of memory to remain. Simple words were escaping him. He found himself lost on streets he had walked 100 times before and occasionally could not recall his own name.

>> 10 Drugs that May Cause Memory Loss

Up until then, Alzheimer’s had been a kind of joke in my life. You’d pretend like you could not hear your wife talking or the dog at the door barking for the 50th time to go out or come in. You’d toss off the word dementia as though it belonged to a funny old man who could never find his slippers in the morning.

“He’s just getting old” had become a false mantra for a disease that has possessed 5 million Americans age 65 and older, and could seize the lives of up to 16 million more in that age group by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure are rising right along with it.

An Alzheimer’s Association report reveals that Hispanics are 1.5 more apt to develop the disease that always ends in death. Among the reasons put forth are that we tend to live longer and, ironically, have more time to develop the risk factors.

The latest report says that in the first half of this century the number of elder  Latinos with Alzheimer’s and related dementia could increase six-fold to 1.3 million.

>> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.

We are a culture cursed by our own lavish living habits.

Statistics alone could never measure the pain and agony of an Alzheimer’s victim or those who are a close part of his world. In a way, it doesn’t matter, I guess, because the victim will disappear in the blur of his past and take with him all who had loved him and lost him forever.

I never saw the young lawyer again. I couldn’t bear to.

Photo: NADOFOTOS/iStock

Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy





Also of Interest

See the  AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
August 07, 2017 07:07 PM
The historical story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II is still not well-known in mainstream American culture and literature. When it comes to books, there are only a handful that are based on JAs' wartime experience. The 1994 novel Snow Falling on Cedars is the most familiar to non-JA audiences (in large part because of the 1999 Oscar-nominated Hollywood film version).
July 19, 2017 05:47 PM
AARP is proud to announce the winners of its 2nd Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Hero Awards that were created to acknowledge the hard-working staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations serving AAPIs age 50-plus.
July 11, 2017 02:09 PM
Are you ready for a new job? Want to start a second career?  Or, perhaps get a part-time gig?  AARP’s Job Board may be the solution to that question. Earlier this year, AARP launched a tool that allows 50+ jobseekers to identify opportunities that fit their unique skills and experiences.   The Job Board leverages AARP’s Employer Pledge Program, which includes 380+ companies, and gives job seekers direct access to their career sites. Membership in this program is an outward expression of the employers’ commitment to hiring across the age spectrum and leveraging the value experienced workers bring to the workplace.