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This Was the First Sign That Charlton Heston Had Alzheimer's

Charlton Heston kept working in spite of experiencing this Alzheimer's symptom. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Charlton Heston spent his life in the public eye as a Hollywood leading man for six decades and appeared in more than 100 films. When the actor, who is best known for classics like Ben-Hur — for which he won an Oscar for best actor — and The Ten Commandments announced in 2002 through a videotaped message shared with reporters that he was experiencing "symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease" he made it clear that he wasn't letting it slow him down. In the statement he said, "For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life. For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must." In 2008, Heston died at the age of 84-years-old in his Beverly Hills home and remains a Hollywood legend to this day. Read on to see what he felt first—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Heston Experienced Memory Loss

Portrait of worried senior man sitting on sofa in living room

In the pre-videotaped statement, the Oscar winner shared with the press, he hinted at memory loss. "If you see a little less spring in my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway."


How to Distinguish Memory Loss as a Sign of Alzheimer's or Aging

Mature woman sitting in bed at home.

Theodore Strange, MD Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital tells us, "Alzheimer's is caused by an accumulation of proteins called plaques and neurofibrillary tangles of tau proteins leading to decrease loss of brain neurons. Memory loss of aging and Alzheimer's can be easily confused and often overlap.  Age related memory loss starts about 60- 65 and is natural and normal. Memory loss, though common, is not the only sign of dementia. Patients with dementia ( most commonly Alzheimer's) may also have problems with language skills, visual perception, and or paying attention.  Personality changes may also occur. Also all patients with memory loss or the start of Alzheimer's should be screened for hearing loss, depression and other common medical diseases like diabetes."


Heston Continued to Work After his Diagnosis

Comforting Senior Husband Suffering With Dementia

Dr. Strange says, "Continuing to work and being engaged to stimulate the thinking process is always a good thing as long as there are no safety issues for the patient affected or in the work being done."


What to Know About Alzheimer's

An old man touches his head. Headache. Alzheimer's disease

Dr. Strange explains, "The usual four "A"s of Alzheimer's are amnesia, aphasia, apraxia, and agnosia. Memory loss that disrupts daily life is a common sign and one that should alert family and physicians that this may be the start of and progression of Alzheimer's. There is early treatment that may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease down but there is no cure.  Medications that could help include Aricept, and Namenda, for example."


Signs of Alzheimer's

Mature woman sitting upset at home.

"Signs of Alzheimer's include: short term memory loss, confusion, difficulty thinking, forgetfulness, difficulty with concentration, disorientation, change in personality," Dr. Strange says. 


Risk Factors

Moody aged man feeling unhappy.

According to Dr. Strange, "People over age of 65 with a family history of Alzheimer's are at highest risk.  The risk increases with age, also, individuals with down syndrome, and patients with previous head injuries are persons with increased risk. Some strategies to prevent Alzheimer's include: eating a healthy diet, using the brain with lifelong learning, regular physical activity and exercise."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather