What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot! According to my five-year-old son, this is the ultimate joke and he tells it several times a day. Less amusing are the jokes I’ve experienced throughout my five years working at Alzheimer’s Research UK with dementia used as a punch line.
Alzheimer’s disease is mostly thought of as a memory problem. But as many who deal with the disease know, this isn’t the only problem people experience. Many patients come into clinic reporting difficulty following conversations in busy rooms, or hearing someone over a busy phone line. We’re trying to find out why people with Alzheimer’s have these problems, and what this can tell us about Alzheimer’s disease as a whole.
I’ve never really taken part in a challenge for charity before; to be honest I’m not one to indulge in strenuous exercise much either. But recently I found myself signing up to do a 450km cycle challenge across Vietnam for Alzheimer’s Research UK and am about to embark on a journey that will test and push some emotional, mental and physical boundaries.
Five years ago, my mother went missing. My father and I searched for her to no avail until the following day. After a very long night of worry, the police found her 50 miles away wandering around someone’s garden. She was confused and had clearly spent the night under a hedge. It transpires that she had had a ’vascular episode’ which eventually resulted in a diagnosis of combined Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.