Ignorance about the
facts of the disease wreaks havoc in the lives of patients and their families.
Most often, family members dismiss the initial symptoms as a natural part of
ageing. Patients are brought to a specialist only after the patient's health
has considerably deteriorated.
World Alzheimer's day
is thus a step in the right direction by enablinga platform to emphasize the need for more education, support, and research
Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Alzheimer's disease is
an 'unforgettable' experience. For most of us, taking a trip down memory lane
could be nostalgic, evoking myriad emotions, as we recall with ease the many
experiences of life. Yet for some 35
in the world today, Alzheimer's disease has jeopardized this
capacity to recall memory, and to which they have progressively grown alien to.
Alzheimer's disease (AD
) is a complex
brain disorder which takes its name after the German physician, Alois
Alzheimer, who first identified the disease in 1907. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia affecting
people over the age of 60.
Each year about
350,000 fresh cases of Alzheimer's disease are diagnosed. The risk is higher as
people catch up with age. Thankfully, it is a rare occurrence among the younger
lot. Hereditary factors contribute to
5% of the cases. A strong family history of dementia is a sure risk factor.
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease can strike anywhere between 30-60 years.
Alzheimer's, is a degenerative
disease of the central nervous system. Along with lapses in memory, the
patient's mental abilities also take a beating, albeit gradually. Patients also
portray behavioral changes, and gradually thinking and intellectual tasks
become extremely difficult. The loss is irreversible. Ultimately, the patients
forget their identity, and simply exist.
Alzheimer's face huge problems with memory, judgment, and structured thought
process. Thus their normal life gets affected. The disease also causes
alterations in mood and behavioral changes. Alzheimer's advances differently in
each person; it is crucial to detect the disease early, so that treatment
outcomes are positive.
Presently, there is no magic pill that can
reverse the advancement of Alzheimer's disease. The best bet so far combines
the expertise of psychotherapy, environmental changes and medication. The
pitfalls of drug therapy for patients who are already suffering memory
impairment can get worse because of the inability to remember to take a drug,
and more so if the drug is to be taken many times in the course of a day.
Nearly 70% of
Alzheimer's sufferers are cared by their family members at home.
Behavioral approaches are beneficial to calm
down the intensity of certain difficult behaviors, often portrayed as
aggressive and even unbecoming manifestations in conduct.
It is here that the caregiver can play a
proactive role in comprehending underlying triggers, and assist in keeping them
• Evolving methods to simplify complex tasks-
such as dressing or feeding - into easy convenient activities.
• Reducing clutter and confusion goes a long way
in reducing the challenge of caring for patients with Alzheimer's.
• Activities that induce pleasure such as games and music,
are known to have a positive effect on the mood, allaying potential fears and
The silver lining clearly rests in the quality
of care meted out to such patients. This directly reflects on the well-being of
Awareness about the symptoms and risk factors of
Alzheimer's disease is crucial in seeking timely medical help for the patients.
The focus of initiatives this year, shifts on the importance of diagnosing the
disease early, which is the only way to control some of its life-altering
symptoms and impede the progression of the disease to a certain extent