The fear of cognitive decline.
I don’t remember my maternal grandmother. At the age of 61, when I was a year old, she died of what today would have been diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. My own mother watched helplessly as she declined day by day further into the abyss that, for most of us, is our greatest fear when it comes to aging.
I was probably in my late teens or early 20s when I recognized that my grandmother’s fate might actually be my mother’s, or mine! I remember feeling worried every time my mother mixed up the names of her children, or forgot her purse somewhere. And as I get closer to the age where the prospect of dementia is more and more likely, I question all my cognitive symptoms. Is that brain fog from a bad night’s sleep, or is my brain shrinking? Did I forget that appointment because I’m juggling my family’s multiple schedules, or did a few more brain cells get disconnected by amyloid plaque build-up?