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The Alzheimer's Dilemma: Is it Better to Know or Not Know?

Updated on May 22, 2012
Linda and Husband
Linda and Husband

Either way, because there is no cure, you're dead. Despite the various methods in which Alzheimer's is detected and diagnosed, there is no getting better, just staying stable or getting worse and even the stableness will fail. So, if you were diagnosed having it, is it better than not knowing, or worse knowing it?

Think about it. Up until the diagnosis, you and family members only suspected it might be happening due to being too forgetful or repeating the same things too many times. Yet, in everyone's own mind, you attributed it to age, getting old, because after all, you are physically in great shape running 3-6 miles a day, eating the right food, in shape and have your health. Why in the world would you ever think something was wrong????? That, Alzheimers, happens to others. I'm too healthy you think. Heck, you are only 56, not 70! It's too early for this shit.

Yet, in the recesses of yours and the loved one's minds there is the nagging question. What if you are diagnosed with A, then what? Would that make your life more enriched because now you begin to rush doing everything you ever wanted to before "A" makes certain you are just "duh". The golden years suddenly are red with your blood. Death is slowly knocking, "Hello, anyone home?"

One life changing moment, once knowing, is you lose freedom. Many states will take your drivers license away once diagnosed. Great! You are perfectly fine and vibrant. On Tuesday, you took relatives to a fun park and enjoyed wine at a winery. By Friday, you no longer could drive-ever again. Now, you became a prisoner. Just the first step of what "A" will do. What about getting to your job? How will that work? Just going to the store becomes an ordeal usually reserved for much older adults.

This is what happened to Linda Dangaard, 56. She is vibrant and in perfect health but tended to forget too many things too many times and repeated the same thing too many times while working. She went to her GP doctor who thought it might be a B12 deficiency. Things did not change enough, so that was ruled out and two MRI's were done, both, inconclusive. Yet, her doctor did suspect dementia setting in and as required by Calif. law, he notified state health authorities that notified DMV. Even though she had done poorly on a variety of tests for "A", the doctor was STILL not sure. That is when they did a spinal tap. That is when it was conclusive that not only did she have "A", it was already in Stage 2 (significant). Yet, Linda felt 120% fine, healthy as she was back in her 30's, still looking good. Man, what a blow it was!

In most states, if you lose your DL, you might as well be on a ball and chain. Relying on others for rides is a pain in the ass. Except for some hazy memory, repetition of conversation, knowing she has it has made her life depressing. Her spirit is crushed. In some things, she excels over her husband and her memory is fine when prepping for school exams

Linda regrets that she continued to pursue the "A" diagnosis. Unless a miracle occurs, this disease is one way. There is no recovery. If you were or are in this situation, would you want to do know?


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    • profile image

      Jayfort 5 years ago

      I've always had a very good memory and I fear losing it one day. I had an uncle who had Alzheimers and relatives said they watched him die a piece at a time. Kind of like the "death of a thousand cuts" you lose a small part of yourself, and then another, and then another...

      If I ever get Alzheimers, I'd like to know it. I'd use the time I had left to wrap up my life, cherish the moments I'd have before the memories are lost, spend those moments with my loved ones.

      Losing my driving privileges would hurt but I'd rather that happen than I get disoriented and lost; or worse caused an accident that harmed another person.

      Great hub, Perry!

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      It is more shocking that being in seemingly very good health can be misleading, very misleading. Scary.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I didn't know some states take one's license away, but I guess that makes sense if the Alzheimer's is advanced. This was very interesting....and sad.