- Alzheimer's disease affects as many as 5 million Americans
- In new study, 9 of 10 participants reversed some of their dementia symptoms
- Eating clean, sleeping at least 8 hours and fasting strategically may help
A music legend fights Alzheimer's disease on his unforgettable farewell tour. CNN Films Presents: "Glen Campbell ... I'll Be Me," Sunday, June 28 at 9 p.m. ET.
(CNN)The woman at the department store bounded toward Julie Gee.
"Julie! Hi! How have you been?" she asked. Gee, 49, stared blankly at her. A few uncomfortable seconds passed.
"I have no idea who this woman is," Gee* thought. She felt herself slipping into a sort of cognitive abyss.
"Remember, our sons went to school together?" the woman said. "We did playground duty together?" Gee's mind was dark. She began to panic.
"I tried to act like I sort of knew who she was, became visibly upset and just left the store," she said, recalling the scenario years later. "It was horrible, just terrifying."
That painful interaction was the first sign of Gee's early stage Alzheimer's disease, which genetic tests later confirmed.
Her memory lapses mounted: Gee would find herself, for a few seconds at a time, forgetting where she was while driving familiar roads. She would walk away from conversations with her husband mid-sentence. She would be reading and unable to relate, moments later, even a shred of what she had just read.
The idea of a long, painful descent into Alzheimer's was too much to bear. Gee's initial fear after her diagnosis metastasized to hopelessness.
"I seriously considered suicide," she said.