Dementia in my family

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My nanna had younger onset Alzheimer's

Zoe, 17

"Everyone on my mums side of the family has the same birthday wish every single year, and I'm sure you can guess what it is."

I’m 17 years old and my family has early onset Alzheimer’s, a genetic predisposition where people younger than 65 are affected with Alzheimer’s that runs in our family. My nanna died along with many other relatives on my mothers side died from early onset AD and my mum has a 50% of having it. If she has it than that means I have a high chance of being diagnosed with it too. We don’t know yet if my mum has the gene because she has chosen not to find out, as knowing if you had the gene would affect the rest of your healthy life before you even started showing symptoms. Forgetting where you put your car keys, or not recalling the time of an appointment are all normal things to forget but once you know you have Alzheimer’s, you immediately become panicked, thinking ‘is this it? Is it starting?’. My nanna started showing symptoms when my mum was about 20. She would do things such as eat lunch, and then an hour later she would eat it again because she had forgotten she’d already eaten. She was passionate about arts and crafts and had a whole room dedicated to her sewing, but as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progressed she slowly lost interest for what once had been her most treasured hobby. As her mind deteriorated, so too did her sense of identity and what made her her. That’s what I’m most terrified about, losing my sense of self and forgetting all those moments in life I’ve had so far which have made me smile, made me laugh, the memories I look back on and smile. I have an amazing family and I don’t want any of my mothers sisters to suddenly lose themself and be incapable of caring for themselves. I don’t want my own mother to one day look at me and forget who I am, all the while being stuck in some nursing home surrounded by people 20 years older than she is. I don’t want it to happen to me. This horrible degenerative brain disease not only literally eats away at your brain, but it eats away at your life, at those who care about you. Everyone on my mums side of the family has the same birthday wish every single year, and I’m sure you can guess what it is.