Growing up in a basketball family, I often watched Coach Pat Summit on TV coaching her Tennessee Lady Volunteers to victory. I remember her intimidating glare and strength as she faced adversity. Who would have thought that one of our country’s greatest coaches, a lady with such high-energy and a sharp mind, would be diagnosed with early onset dementia—Alzheimer’s Disease—at the age of 59? She resigned from coaching the following year despite her desire to continue coaching her players.
Coach Summit shifted her battle from the basketball court to tackling her toughest opponent—early onset dementia. She established a foundation and raised millions of dollars to fight Alzheimer’s and raise awareness of this devastating disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, an overwhelming majority of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but approximately 200,000 of them are younger than 65-years-old. This is what is referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s.
Due to the lower number of patients with early onset, diagnoses are often missed or symptoms are attributed to stress or lack of sleep.
So what can you do? What signs do you look for?
Symptoms vary, but the Alzheimer’s Foundation says key signs to watch for include the following:
- memory loss that disrupts daily life
- challenges in planning or solving problems
- difficulty completing familiar tasks
- confusion with time or place
- trouble understanding visual images
- new problems with speaking or writing
- putting things in unusual places
- decreased judgment
- withdrawal from work or social activities
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, early diagnosis is key to building a proper support system, which should include finalizing an estate plan that will provide protection for you when you are unable to make decisions, documenting health care directives, and selecting trusted agents to act on your behalf.
Allison Manning enjoys helping clients establish peace of mind in their estate plans and building relationships with her clients. If you would like to make an appointment to find out how we can help protect your legacy, call (520) 529-4000