Washington: Retired US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court, announced Tuesday that she is battling dementia -- and probably Alzheimer's disease.
O'Connor, 88, said that as her condition has progressed, it means she is "no longer able to participate in public life" which -- since her retirement 12 years ago -- has focused on civics education.
"Some time ago, doctors diagnosed me with the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease," O'Connor said in a statement sent to AFP by the Supreme Court.
"I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by dear friends and family," she said.
"While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life."
O'Connor was nominated to the court by Republican President Ronald Reagan and she took her seat in September 1981.
She announced her intention to retire in 2005 and formally left the court in January 2006 to take care of her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
O'Connor was a moderate conservative and often played the role of swing vote, notably in 2000, when the court ruled to end all challenges to the election of George W. Bush as president over Democrat Al Gore.
She voted with the liberal-leaning justices to defend the right to have an abortion.
Here are five things that you should be aware of when it comes to dementia.
It is not a natural part of ageing: Memory problems are just one of a number of symptoms that people with dementia may experience. Others include difficulties with planning, thinking things through, struggling to keep up with a conversation, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it doesn’t just affect older people.
Caused by diseases of the brain: There are multiple causes and no two types of dementia are same. In different types of dementia there is damage to different parts of the brain. The different types of dementia include vascular dementia (caused by problems with blood supply to the brain); mixed dementia (usually Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia); dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease).
It's not just about losing memory: While it often starts by affecting the short-term memory, it is not just restricted to that. Someone with dementia might repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently. Other common symptoms include difficulties concentrating, problems planning and thinking things through, struggling with familiar daily tasks, like following a recipe or using a bank card, issues with language and communication, problems judging distances (even though eyesight is fine), mood changes and difficulties controlling emotions.
Living with dementia/; Although there is no cure for dementia, scientists and researchers are working hard to find one. There are support systems and treatments are available that can help with symptoms and managing daily life. There are drugs available that may help with some types of dementia and stop symptoms progressing for a while. Other things that can help with symptoms of dementia include
cognitive stimulation and keeping as active as possible – physically, mentally and socially and help avoid depression....