Doreen Watson-Beard, 49, was a nurse at an assisted living facility who took care of her husband who had liver cancer. Watson-Beard had led Alzheimer’s support groups. When she began to forget to pick up her grandchildren, plans with her husband and gave the wrong dosage to a patient, she began to worry.
After her husband died, three years ago, she put off the symptoms as stress and grief. Watson-Beard was diagnosed at 44 with dementia. Forgetfulness was one of her first symptoms.
Dr. Marc Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist at Miami Jewish Health Systems and author of “How We Age” states that the diagnosis for dementia is quite complicated, especially at Doreen’s age.
Beth Kallmyer, a social worker at the Alzheimer’s Association, said many people don’t realize that the younger ones diagnosed with dementia can experience incredulous reactions to the diagnosis.
“It can be financially devastating,” she said.
This was painfully devastating on Doreen, who left her job last year. Her home is in foreclosure and she does not have medical insurance. She pays out of pocket for her doctor visits. Namenda, a treatment for the symptoms of dementia, is free from the Drug Company.
Watson-Beard wonders what her journey with dementia will be like. Aging will not be the same for her.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 200,000 Americans under 65 of the 5.4 million who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Most of these people are baby boomers, the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.