The Foolishness has taken up residence high in the mountains of Colombia. There, in one village, one family is dealing with Alzheimer’s in a horrific way. This family is considered to be the largest known clan affected by Alzheimer’s. In the village, La Bobera (The Foolishness) is dreaded. Not knowing the cause has led to much fear and superstition. The New York Times featured an article on one family in the area.
The family matriarch cares for three adult children with Alzheimer’s. In a cruel life twist, when she should be enjoying her golden years, Mrs. Cuartas is a much needed care giver. At the age of 82 she is once again changing the diapers of her children, feeding them, and taking care of their needs.
The remote region and the fact that the gene has long been in the ancestry of the area means that many in the village and surrounding area deal with the dementia. Early onset of Alzheimer’s leads people in the prime of their life to begin to lose their memories and their ability to function. This disease is devastating a whole region of people.
This area has become important in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Having so many affected in one geographic region offers a suitable group to study the disease. A gene has been identified as causing the problems so there is the ability to determine if a person is predisposed to developing the disease. This offers the opportunity to work for treatments that can be used before Alzheimer’s develops as opposed to trying to treat it once symptoms have appeared.
It is truly a tragedy that this region of Colombia is dealing with this horrible disease in such a profound way. My heart goes out to them as it does to anyone having to fight dementia. While nothing can make it worthwhile to have Alzheimer’s the unique chance to work toward a treatment and cure is the one miniscule bright spot.
Read the complete Alzheimer's article on the New York Times web site.