Celebrities Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease

Filed in Gather Health Essential by on July 10, 2009 0 Comments

Alzheimer’s disease is a troubling disorder which causes the brain and neurons to degenerate over time.  It’s unfortunate as the disorder, also known as “dementia”, becomes progressively worse, moving from forgetfulness of people and things to psychotic and delusional behaviors.  Alzheimer’s affects everyone around the person suffering from the disorder as well, and can be very troubling for family members to cope with.

Sometimes we may imagine that celebrities and those who are in the spotlight with fame are immune or invulnerable to disease and disorder.  As we’ve seen from the recent news, celebrities do suffer from health problems.  The recent deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett illustrate this, and have brought this more to our attention.  You may not have realized that several celebrities have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the most famous people in American history who had Alzheimer’s is our former, late president Ronald Reagan.  Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, announced to the country that he had Alzheimer’s disease via a hand-written letter in November of 1994.  Reagan was 83 years of age at the time.  Reagan received a large amount of support via letters and cards from people.  After the announcement, some people questioned how long Reagan had shown the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Some people close to the president noticed him seeming unable to recognize people in the room, while various doctors reported he was perfectly fine at those times.  Reagan suffered several unfortunate head traumas during his time in office which further complicated the disorder.  Slowly, the disease progressed and destroyed Reagan’s brain cells, affecting his memory and cognition.  Sadly, Reagan passed away in his home on June 5, 2004.

Actor Charles Bronson of movies such as “Death Wish” and “The Magnificent Seven” suffered from Alzheimer’s disease as well.  Bronson was diagnosed with the disease in 2000.  A close friend said Bronson didn’t like leaving the house due to easy confusion, and that he also spoke slowly with sometimes slurred words.  These are clear symtpoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  Bronson used both prescribed Alzheimer’s medications as well natural and alternative Alzheimer’s treatments.  After several years of health complications, the actor sadly died of pneumonia in 2003 at a Los Angeles hospital.

Famous painter Norman Rockwell also suffered from Alzheimer’s, and a 2008 article about the “Rockwell effect” talks of how the late artist’s paintings are therapeutic for the elderly and dementia sufferers.  It’s been said that Rockwell’s paintings help job the memory and play a part in memory activities, allowing patients to recall emotional memories.  Also, the paintings have helped with problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.  Rockwell passed away in 1978 of emphysema at the age of just 84 years old.

The list goes on for famous people afflicted by this severe disorder known as dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Actors Charlton Heston, Burgess Meredith and actress Rita Hayworth all were struck by Alzheimer’s as were boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and singer/entertainer Perry Como.  The disease continues to be one that scientists and doctors struggle to find a cure for.  There are currently many Alzheimer’s medications used in treatment as they seek to understand the best way to reduce or eliminate symptoms.  As our medical technology advances, it seems a more effective treatment or cure may become a reality for this troubling degenerative disorder.

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