and most importantly, this is a story with a happy ending 🙂
I would like to tell you about a friend of mine, who I’ll call D.
D’s father developed signs of dementia in his late 70’s. Her mother began showing signs in her mid-80’s, and was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a short while later.
D grew up in a home of planners. Meals were planned. Expenses were controlled. Spontaneity was discouraged. True to her roots, D started the journey toward figuring out what her future might look like.
The first step was exploring any genetic risk factors. D quickly learned that she was homozygous APOE4, meaning that she inherited the APOE4 gene from both parents. Only 2-3% of the population have this particular genotype, which is is a strong indicator of future Alzheimer’s. In fact, 91% of people with this gene combination go on to get Alzheimer’s. Average age of onset is fairly young – late 60’s. D was understandably worried.
So what did she do? Knowing that time was of the essence, D immediately got to work, logging and recording everything that her partner and family would need to know should she be unable to remember or articulate what they would need to know. Passwords, bank accounts, follow up details for services, insurance details – all recorded.
Recently, D learned through an MRI and PET scan (that she arranged because she wanted to “know”), that she is showing no signs of Alzheimer’s. D has a reprieve. Maybe she’ll never get Alzheimer’s. But she’s quite happy knowing that all that she could do was taken care of to ease the burden on her partner – if or when that time does come.
There really is no such thing as planning too early or too much.
So a good news news story for this Monday morning. D is lucky and so am I.