He died quietly two nights later. "It's Dad's last gift to us," my sister Ginger said. We all knew it was better than years of struggling with dementia.
Thinking back to the people who came to Dad's memorial service or sent letters of sympathy, I'm struck by how many of them mentioned their relatives' dementia or Alzheimer's. Some of my parent's neighbors talked about their spouses, and the clerk at the local pharmacy said her aunt had Alzheimer's. Two of my best friends from junior high have parents with dementia.
Here's some scary facts:
- In the U.S., 10% of people over 65 and almost half of those over 85 have Alzheimer's.
- An estimated 24 million people worldwide have dementia - that's about the number of people who live in the state of Texas, or the entire country of Saudi Arabia.
Thinking of all the families involved, I guess we're lucky Dad died while he still enjoyed life and was relatively independent.