An estimated 5.3 million people in the United States are currently suffering from Alzheimer's two thirds of which are women. It is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental function. It isn’t very well understood and accounts for most cases of dementia. It is difficult to watch love ones struggle to remember treasured memories.
In this case it’s all the more painful for a single mother of three whose children depend on her, knowing that her mental faculties are deteriorating.
“I don’t make excuses for myself, because I know as well as anybody that I can’t do that,” said Carrie Richardson to the Times Free Press.
Carrie Richardson, 34, lives in Montgomery, Alabama and knew that she would suffer from the same Early Onset Familial Alzheimer’s that killed her father, uncles and cousin, and affects her brother.
“It’s more than just about forgetting things. It’ takes over your brain. You lose the ability to swallow. To talk. To clean yourself,” said Richardson.
She’s currently serving as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association and doing her best to make arrangements for her children, aged 14, 12 and 9 for when the time comes. Richardson has insurance policies, a living will and is collecting as many photos and memories as she can for them, so that they will understand the disease and always have something from better days to hold on to.
“Now my children have a 50 percent chance to carry the gene as well. They’re allowed to be tested before the age of 18, but they don’t advise it. I was 31 when I had mine done. My brother is already in the beginning stages. He’s 35.”
In the meantime, there is some hope. Richardson has started on a trail drug called Gantenerumab that may help slow the progress Alzheimer’s. Time will tell if she can escape the same fate as so much of her family.
Banner photo credit: Flickr/Martinak15