Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a complex brain disorder that triggers the most common form of dementia affecting people over the age of 60. Of late, early onset of dementia is also reported from age 40 onwards. Lack of awareness and education about Alzheimer's disease results in serious neglect of the sufferers. The simple storyline in the following slides will help you understand Alzheimer's progression and how to take care and support the sufferers and help them cope with this degenerative disease that has no known cure till now.
In the year 2000, Mrs Usha aged 65 years, a retired schoolteacher lived a normal, happy life with her husband, son, daughter in law and two grand children, until Alzheimer's disease crept into her life and began to wreak havoc.
Gradually her grandchildren started realizing that their grandma's teaching was quite confusing! Earlier she used to help them with their homework and make the lessons interesting.
Once an expert cook, Usha was now slowly forgetting the safety procedures while cooking and ended up with little accidents in the kitchen.
Loss of memory and the inner confusion it triggered, often left Usha disoriented and unsure of herself. Over the last six months she was unable to sleep well in the night.
By 2001 her shopping ability got affected. Usha was unable to calculate and hence her routine of shopping vegetables for her house was affected.
Usha was known for her patience, but now even for trivial matters was getting very irritated and angry. It was very difficult to calm her down after she suddenly flared up.
The family suspecting that the changes were not part of ageing, took her to a doctor. The doctor examined her thoroughly and found that she had dementia due to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The doctor explained to the family about dementia and how Usha has to be taken care of.
To educate the family regarding care giving, a health worker visited their residence and advised them on the nature of the disease. The health worker explains that due to the illness she has lost the ability to dress, to bathe and to eat on her own. Someone had to help her perform even these basic activities in life.
Usha's daughter in law began to help her with the bath and also helped Usha to wear her clothes.
If a single person in the family did all the work required to care for the AD patient then the person would most likely experience emotional exhaustion.
By 2003 Usha did not know how to eat food and was found playing with her food instead of eating it. Usha's son and husband took up the responsibility of feeding her.
Dementia is a chronic illness that will make the patient more and more dependent on others and the family members have to provide care for many years. Always share the responsibilities and activities of care giving to patients with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias.
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