Woman shares father’s journey through Alzheimer’s with the world, and her diary is touching
A woman's diary documents her father's heartbreaking struggle with Alzheimer's.
Mariel Kirton has been living with heartbreak since she was 14 years old.
It was then that her beloved father, Ray, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 52, and she has shared her painful journey on her blog in the hopes of helping others deal with the dread disease.
ALZHEIMER'S: THE THIEF OF MEMORIES
Alzheimer's Disease was first described and identified by a German psychiatrist and pathologist, Alois Alzheimer, in 1906.
The disease is classified as chronic neurodegenerative, and one of the principal causes of dementia. It affects an estimated 6% of people aged 65 and older, and statistics indicate that there are over 30 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's.
The most devastating of the disease's symptoms is the progressive memory loss, until the sufferer cannot even remember their own family.
Early-onset Alzheimer's can strike people in their 40s or 50s - like Ray, who inherited the disease from his grandparents.
EARLY-ONSET ALZHEIMER'S DEVASTATING DIAGNOSIS
Kirton's father, an ambitious, intelligent man in the prime of his life, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and told that he would gradually lose his memories, his abilities, his sense of self. His grandparents had also died of Alzheimer's so he knew exactly what would be happening to him.
ALZHEIMER'S STOLE KIRTON'S FATHER FROM HER
Over the last 7 years, Kirton has seen her hard-working father who had a high-powered and demanding career as a manager of a medical sales team slowly lose himself. Ray can no longer remember people's names or keep track of a normal conversation.
LIVING LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME
One thing hasn't changed. Ray is still the same sweetly considerate and loving, affable man he ever was. He just can't remember who he was.
Alzheimer's could take away his memories, but not his innate kindness. Ray can no longer distinguish clearly between reality and TV, and addresses the host of TV shows politely, and thanks the meteorologists for their forecasts.
The tragedy is that Ray is not yet 60 years old. Kirton wants people to be aware that Alzheimer's is not an "old" disease. Early-onset Alzheimer's can strike people in their 40s or 50s - like Ray, who inherited the disease from his grandparents.
Kirton appeals to people to support Alzheimer's research and put an end to the scourge that is devastating families all over the world.
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THE DEMENTIA EPIDEMIC
Alzheimer's is the root cause for 60 to 70% of the 50 million cases of dementia throughout the world. It is estimated that by 2051, a whopping 3% of the population of the United Kingdom will suffer from some form of dementia.
Dementia is costing the British economy an estimated $33 billion a year; more than cancer and heart disease combined. Ironically, dementia is also underfunded, with less than $100 a year spent on research per patient.
Women have taken the brunt of the impact of dementia, both as sufferers and as carers. Dementia was the leading cause of death for women in England and Wales in 2014. As of 2018 is also first for men, having overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death.
In a related story, a grandmother with Alzheimer's is delighted each time she re-meets her newborn granddaughter.