This Day is observed on the 21st September every year, as a day in the World Alzheimer Month…by organisations and foundations worldwide with this name.
Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressing cascade of cognitive decline affecting subjects in the senile age group and is regarded as multifactorial in its origin and with no significant treatment as yet, assuring a reversal or stoppage in the progress of this slow brain cell death…ending up with bodily cessation of functions in course of time.
The hallmark of this disease is dementia and this particular condition is the commonest cause of dementia affecting human kind.
It has an obscure aetiology this far ..speculated to being caused by the abnormal deposition of proteins amidst the brain cells….like Amyloid ..causing plaques and and Tau…which remain entangled with the neurons in the brain.
While the unmodifiable factor(s) could be…age/familial/genetic…modifiable ones could be lifestyle/environmental/smoking/depression-due to any cause/sedentary life in solitude /exposure to cumulative effects of noise /untreated hearing loss etc. Also morbid grief after losing a loved one , financial worries,health anxiety of chronic debilitating illnesses could be a common precipitant of this condition. It is seen to have a gender bias..as to slightly more common in women above 65 years than men of similar age.
Some common pointers towards this affection is the initial presentation of very mild memory loss/cognitive decline…appearing to be normal of this age, but gradually advancing to affect the normal ability of a person, to execute the very basic tasks of day to day lives and failing to recall the names of familiar persons and simple objects of life, accompanied with inappropriate social behavior and lack of mental restraints. With this begins a phase of dependency on others around, to lead a normal daily life and ultimately ending up with immobility and gross paucity of activities towards the terminal phase of this phenomena…of senile dementia.
Since this disease does not kill immediately…a chosen caregiver has an immense role to play in caring for such affected individuals in their twilight years.Empathy and not sympathy is the sheet anchor of an approach to any person affected with Alzheimer’s. In fact..it is always better if a normal personwho is supposed to play the role of a caregiver, to undergo a brief orientation session, as to how to deal with a person affected with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Some important aspects of communicating with persons suffering from this condition may be as below …
- To speak in simple sentences with them,in a slow pace, stressing more on long term past memories and avoid asking questions which emphasize on short term memory.
- On seeking for preferences….as to wishing to have egg/fish for lunch..it is better to show them the objects ,for a better clarity in the question and response.
- The speaker must remain aware of his/her own’s body language or mannerism while talking to the affected one…focusing on direct eye contact and in the absence of any sensory distraction.
- Demonstrate ample amount of patience while communicating with a dementic person…till the patient is able to comprehend the topic on which spoken to.
- Never ever comment on the mental /intelligent set back on the faculties of an affected person in front of the communicator.
- Be aware of the limitations of the affected person….on memory loss/difficulty in handling complex tasks/problems in planning and organizing their personal lives/difficulty in coordination and locomotion etc. etc.Preventive aspects on this condition are many ….which includes leading a simple lifestyle….avoid being affected by extremes of emotions…regular touch with friends and relatives….cutting down on caffeine intake to increase the sleeping hours,following a simple rule to keep the cognition active…by doing simple calculations mentally-trying to recall all those whom the person had met earlier in life-trying to place the names of persons by visuals (pictures/photos)-and spiritual recourse at convenient timings in day to day lives.
Researches are on for a definitive management strategy of this disease but the results are yet to come forth in a big way.