When I was younger there were no elders in my family, extended family, or friend's families who had this awful disease. My elder relatives were very much a vital part of our lives and integrated into everything we did. I know it wasn't called Alzheimers back then, but I knew very few people who had diminished mental capacity as they aged. Fast forward to the present and it seems that so many more seniors are afflicted with this illness.
Is the cause environmental, from having less healthy diets and lifestyles than past generations, social deprivation, or from living longer lives. It seems so odd to me that we would have this tremendous leap in cases in such a short period of time.
I also wonder if it is coming from a shift in our thinking about aging. In the past most people did physical labor until the day they died. We did not warehouse older citizens or make them feel like their usefulness was up. My grandfather worked on his farm until his 80s. My grandmother was dancing 2 weeks before she passed.
If it is a societal issue, that troubles me. The last few decades have ushered in a youth-fixated philosophy, so much so, that the media and advertisers try to suggest that people in their 40s+ are "old." We separate generations and grandparents are just for "visiting" on Sundays. Could lack of inter-generational contact be contributing to the cognitive issues we are seeing now? I don't know.
I know very little about this illness, and am hoping others will share their theories. I hope we find a cure...it is such a dignity-robbing disease.