“I’ve been the primary caregiver for my mother with Dementia/Alzheimer’s for the past 9 years. She’s 86 now and is fading away bit by bit. It is so unbelievably cruel and torturous to watch someone who was an excellent teacher and active lover of life, whittled away by this hideous disease a tiny bit at a time.”
This is a son/caregiver describing his mother with Alzheimer’s and explaining the agony of this disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of old age. It is characterized by memory impairment and deteriorating cognitive functions like reasoning, learning, recalling and language all leading to personality changes.
The main cause of this disease is brain cells dying, leading to fewer nerve cells and an overall shrinkage of the brain size. The dying cells are connected with protein filaments called beta-amyloid; which builds up in the brain of diseased patients.
Early Signs & Symptoms!
Some early signs of the disease include:
Memory loss disrupting daily life
Challenges in problem solving and taking decisions
Confusion with time or place
Trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images
New problems with words, with speaking and writing
Losing the ability to retrace steps and misplacing things
Decreased or poor judgement
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Changes in mood and personality
Alzheimer’s in Pakistan
According to estimates, there are around one million dementia patients in Pakistan. Unfortunately, most Alzheimer patients in Pakistan die with this agony without being properly diagnosed. They are mistaken to be going through normal aging which is not true. There is a difference.
Difference between Normal aging and Alzheimer’s.
There is a distinction between the two. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficultly in remembering new things for example, appointments. While people who are aging normally may forget things as well, they will remember them later, in other words you remember what you forgot. Whereas in Alzheimer’s that doesn’t happen, you forget something and you don’t get that information back.
Alzheimer patients have increased pain sensitivity. It is important we know about the illness so we can save our parents from the agony that they have to suffer in old age. It is cruel when a person so knowledgeable for example a doctor or teacher who worked for years gradually seems to lose it all, it is also painful for their children to see them going through the loss.
Diagnosis is generally made by doctors through brain imaging to visualize brain changes on the films. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are several treatments which try to normalize the brain’s levels of neurotransmitter chemicals and slow the progression of the disease.
Some of the major treatment methods used for this disease are:
Nursing home care,
Assisted living facilities,
Medicines after consulting with a doctor.
It is critically important to diagnose patients as many are left undiagnosed and die with this pain. It is also important that we improve their quality of life and provide them better healthcare.