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Coping with the Fear of Getting Alzheimer's Myself Someday

Has this ever happened to you? You're in the middle of a conversation with someone when you suddenly forget what you were about to say. You start searching for the words, but you can't find them. You begin to panic. You think to yourself, "Oh no, am I starting to get Alzheimer's?"

I can't even tell you the number of times that has happened to me. It's happened more often than I'd like to admit. There is always a much more logical explanation for why I lost my train of thought, but after my mom's ten-year battle with Alzheimer's, the thought of getting it myself someday always crosses my mind.

The only one with Alzheimer's disease

My mom is the only person in our family who has ever had Alzheimer's disease — that I know of.

My mom didn't have a relationship with her biological father, and I know practically nothing about him. There is a chance that there is a history of the disease on his side of the family. However, I would honestly rather not know. Having that information would only cause me more stress and anxiety. It would only cause me to panic even more, every time I forget what I was going to say.

And while I know there are plenty of things people can do nowadays to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, I try not to let it consume my life. I try to eat healthy(ish), exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and keep my mind active, but I don't allow myself to obsess over it. I don't beat myself up if I miss a day or eat too much dessert.

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A fine line

I think there's a fine line between being aware of my health and doing what I can to maintain it and obsessing over the fact that I might get Alzheimer's - to the point where I end up not able to enjoy my life right now. There are so many other bad things that could happen to me over the course of my lifetime. There are so many other diseases or illnesses that I might get.

I could die in an accident on my way to the gym tomorrow and never even make it to an age when I might start developing Alzheimer's. If I spent every minute of every day of my life worrying about what might happen to me, I would never have had the chance to enjoy my life in the first place. What would be the point in that?

Coping with the fear of getting Alzheimer's

Of course, the thought of getting Alzheimer's has also had some positive effects on my life. I try not to sweat the small stuff because I know that life can be shorter and a lot more challenging than we expect. I tell the people I love that I love them, so they will always know. And I try to cherish each day as it comes and live my life to the fullest for as long as I'm able to do so.

Am I still afraid that I might get Alzheimer's someday? Yes.

Do I worry about who will take care of me and how? Yes.

But I also know that Alzheimer's took my mom's life way too soon, and I absolutely refuse to let it take mine, as well.

Managing this fear is not uncommon for Alzheimer's caregivers. Share your fears and how you cope in the forums, here.

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