On a recent flight from San Francisco back to Boston, I found myself seated between my 28-year-old daughter, Colleen, and the emergency hatch. When the attendant asked if I could perform the duties, I shrugged and simply said I was afraid of heights. I forgot about the confusion. I forgot why doctors don’t let me travel alone anymore. Alzheimer’s will do that.
Somewhere over Chicago, I had to go to the bathroom. My mind told me the bathroom door was immediately to my right — all I had to do was to pull on the lever — so I grabbed for it. It took Colleen screaming for me to realize that my hand was on the emergency exit door. The crew later told me never to sit in an exit row again.
My life has become a race for survival against Alzheimer’s, and I’m not the only one. More than 5 million Americans suffer from this demon of a disease, a number expected to double in the next 20 years as my fellow baby boomers reach the age of its onset. Treating Alzheimer’s in the United States now costs more than $200 billion a year. By 2050, that could surpass $1 trillion.
– The Washington Post