What is Alzheimers ?
As friends in their early 60s we often have difficulty in remembering names. We know exactly what we are referring to when we are reminiscing but can’t seem to remember the person’s name. We grapple for a bit, then laugh it off, slightly embarrassed, saying ” Oh! it must be early Alzheimers!”
Little do we realise that Alzheimer's is no laughing matter. Click To Tweet
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with the disease—those with the late-onset type—symptoms first appear in their mid-60s – Source
Many old people suffer from Alzheimers, a form of dementia.
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, and neuropathologist who noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness, in 1906.
Today , both the word and the condition has become pretty commonplace and we often see people suffering from it.
But do they really have Alzheimers? Or do they just have dementia?
Early signs of Alzheimer’s
Since this is an incurable disease that only progresses, it is best that one recognises the signs early on. Remember not to use the word Alzheimers loosely. Early signs are typical.
- Short term memory loss : Remembering things that happened in the recent past.
- Struggling with planning or problem solving: Getting hassled with simple tasks like paying a bill or answering the phone.
- Losing track of time: Often asking the day of the week again and again
- Misplacing things: As we get older, it is hard to remember exactly where we have kept things but constantly losing them is worrisome. Unable to retrace steps and find objects
- Withdrawing from the world: Being careless about their grooming and dressing. Talking less with others.
- Mood /personality changes: When someone acts totally out of character.
- Trouble in following conversations: Losing track of sequential thoughts. Forgetting words, names, and spellings.
- Trouble completing common tasks: Cooking or doing once familiar tasks become daunting.
Alzheimers & Me
No! Don’t get alarmed . I’m not suffering from Alzheimer’s. Nor do I intend to. I make sure I do the Sudoku and word puzzles in every newspaper we get .
But dealing with older persons every day, I am always watchful for early signs of the disease.
It is natural for older people to experience age related problems like poor vision, partial deafness, illogical logic, heightened emotionality, confused memories. But thankfully, the seniors in my life are not suffering from Alzheimers.
Not like Ava who used to sneak out of the house for a walk. Sadly, she couldn’t make her way back! Luckily for her, she couldn’t walk very far and used to be found wandering in the neighbourhood. Equally fortunate was the fact that she was duly returned to her family. A family that really cared for her.
But Mrs. D whose only daughter lived overseas had no option but to be cared for professionally. Mrs. D suffered from Alzheimers . These healthcare workers were dedicated but nothing they did could prevent the disease from progressing rapidly.
Can you prevent Alzheimers?
I am not a medical person so am completely unfit to answer this question. But common sense tells me that a healthy lifestyle which encompasses meaningful social interaction, nutritious food and regular exercise definitely helps people age well.
Remember, Alzheimer’s is not a joke.
Keep your brain active by playing Bridge or solving puzzles and quizzes.
Above all, remember that the next time you find yourself forgetting things or unable to recall a name, don’t laugh it off as early Alzheimers because Alzheimers is no laughing matter.
Saturday 21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day