Forget me not

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We’re all doomed – to put it simply.

The depressing statistics are falling like cats and dogs, and just now it feels as though one only has to leave their front garden to become struck down with a terrible illness.

With the loom of the Big C, among the countless other life changing illnesses, it is easy to overlook those that do not seem immediately threatening.

In just ten years time however, 1 million people in the United Kingdom will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This illness is not exclusive to granny’s and bus pass bandits alike – and this silent, formidable condition is not one to overlook your lovely mum, or heaven forbid – even you.

I’ll admit that I was guilty of the assumption that old age came to us all, and with it – a certain dwindle in memory. Often this seemed mildly humorous, brushed off as something insignificant and inevitable.

Not one for dramatics, I will not subject you to an emotional post on my own personal experiences with the illness besides the fact that this is something directly affecting my family, and most certainly will be a fate for myself without further research.

Life is relatively fleeting, one minute you’re skipping down the street eating a bag of crisps, the next – you have fallen down a drain and its all over. Yes, I do realise this is one of the less likely outcomes, even for someone as eternally clumsy as myself but the point remains – things can change very quickly.

The ‘you only life once’ mantra of the current generation is more relevant to Alzheimer’s disease than they may think. Because dependending on your individual religious beliefs – yes, you do. You’ll go to school, eat many a turkey at Christmas time, you might get married (and divorced) and the chances are that you will share many a memory with some very special people. Life is all about moments, and importantly, with whom these moments are shared. Of all diseases, I find the prospect of being robbed of these outrageously cruel.

Picture this: you’re on the beach. It’s probably cold, because this is the UK and beaches are unlikely to be even remotely warm – at least where I live. To set the scene a bit, lets’s make it 12 O’Clock. You’re wearing your favourite trainers and inwardly cursing that you’ve now got them covered in sand. Not even nice sand, the annoying kind that goes all clumpy and makes it look like you’ve walked through some sort of bog. It’s windy too, you wish you brought a warmer coat. In fact – you wish you hadn’t bothered to come to this windy, clumpy sand filled beach in the first place. But this isn’t about you, this is about my nice scenario, so stop being so selfish.

You pick up a handful of sand, and slowly loosen the cap between your fingers, allowing grains to slowly trickle through. It’s quite nice for a minute, but if you were to change your mind and suddenly decide that you want all that sand back, exactly where it was. You can’t – it’s slipping through your fingers and it’s lost.

You can always close the gap between your fingers and think “what a terribly silly idea”, and move on with your life. But imagine this isn’t possible: your fingers are frozen as they are. You’re loosing all this sand that you care about so much and to be honest: you’re getting pretty stressed about this bloody trip to the beach.

I suppose that’s my analogy of Alzheimer’s. The involuntary slipping away of memory and the lack of control that the sufferer has. It’s so frustrating, it’s so unfair, and it currently costs 26 billion pounds to society every year.

Just because this disease isn’t immediately apparent to they eye; don’t forget about it. Smile at the kind faced lady on the bus that seems a bit dottled, be more patient with the stressed out man furrowing his brow, and look closer to home: understanding that this illness can strike at any time, and it is likely to effect you in some way, shape or form.

This may seem a bit depressing, but the reality is, that this condition needs to be acknowledged and dealt with. Dementia costs over £30,000 per person with dementia each year, yet only £90 per person is spent on research. In order to change this, awareness needs to be raised just as well as fundraising money.

You can do your bit by talking about this issue, donating to causes, and if you’re feeling extremely daring – jump put a plane and harass your friends for money (I can vouch that this works quite well).

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Whatever you decide, remember the next time you’re feeling snap happy with your pals, screeching ‘YOLO!’ on a night out, those words are truer than you think.

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