By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times
CARTERET COUNTY — The Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina estimates there are 170,000 people with Alzheimer’s out of our state’s 10.2 million residents. They predict this number will grow to 210,000 people by the year 2025.
There is a lot to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, but what we do know is that Amyloid plaque damages and destroys brain cells. Brain cells require the normal structure and functioning of a protein called tau.
In Alzheimer’s, threads of tau protein twist into abnormal tangles inside brain cells, leading to the death of these cells. Factors known to increase the risk of developing the condition are age, family history and genetics, head injuries, past head trauma or mild cognitive impairment.
Cardiovascular disease has been linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease it is wise to exercise regularly, engage in social activities, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking, manage stress effectively and maintain a healthy weight to height ratio.
There are 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease strips away memories layer by layer and destroys our connection to the past. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is hard emotionally on the family.
Lynn Mauze can attest to that. Lynn describes it as “an adult once, a child twice.” That was exactly how Alzheimer’s left her otherwise feisty, determined and loving 90+ year old mother, Beth Stewart. But in this and everything else, says Lynn, you have to treasure the blessings if you ever want long-lasting peace.
The day tugged at Lynn, and she arrived at the memory care facility to see her mother before she awoke that morning. It seemed like she was peeking through the endless fog, so Lynn held her hand and said, “You’re such a good mother and I’m so fortunate to have you.” Without a blink, her raspy voice answered, “LYNN, you’re such a good daughter and I love you!”
And just as quickly as it arrived, the moment left. But Lynn said she knows that it was God’s way of connecting them for one last time. Her mom hadn’t known Lynn for a long time and didn’t ever know her again, but she keeps that memory of those short phrases in her heart. Lynn says, “I take them out, dust them off, and savor. I can repeat them as long as I live, and they are far more important than the sadness of this disease.”