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Alzheimer’s Day: Break The Stigma That Surrounds Dementia!

Posted: September 21, 2019

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21st September, World Alzheimer’s day 2019 theme: Focus on stigma and break the stereotypes that surround the diagnosis of dementia.

Until a few days ago, I hadn’t dreamt that I would do a write-up about Alzheimer’s day! It all started on a ‘turned-up-to be a funny day’, exactly a week back.

I forgot the birthday of one of my best friends. Later, on the same day I left my purse at a grocery store I visited. (fortunately the shopkeeper turned out to be a nice person and I got my purse back). But again, the very same day when I couldn’t find a 1000 Rs note that I kept aside to pay the electric bill, I had enough reason to get mad at myself.

Did all these incidents lead me to doubt on my ‘memory-power’? No, but something else happened!

My memory had crawled years back. I recollected how I used to giggle at an old man next-door, at his disability to recollect my name a thousand times. Then, I had little idea of what he was suffering, and his pain beneath that helpless smile! He was the victim of one of the most alarming diseases – Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s day observed for?

On 21st September, World Alzheimer’s Day is observed by Alzheimer’s Organisation all over the world to create awareness among people. Known in the medical Literature as “Alzheimer Disease”. Referred to as the most common form of Dementia (A Disease that causes long term loss of the ability to be functioning) that ultimately leads to death as there is no cure as of today.

The disease is named after the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist -Alois Alzheimer as it was first described by him. AD is classified as a neurodegenerative disorder, and the cause, as well as the progression of the disease, are not well understood, the present treatments only help with the symptoms of the disease and are not useful in either stopping or the reversal of the progression of the disease.

Symptoms and other factors related to dementia

Over 35 million people worldwide are affected by AD according to recent WHO research.

The most common symptom or sign of warning is memory loss, especially unable to recollect the recent events, places or confusion about the time! Another serious symptom is the changes in mood. The person becomes more anxious, confused, and suspicious as well as depressed resulting in withdrawal from social activities and work.

As there is no cure for AD considering the fact that it is a degenerative disease, the afflicted person heavily relies on others for assistance and often the role of a caregiver is played by a spouse or a close relative and it places a wide-ranging burden on the caregiver involving social, psychological and physical, element on the part of the caregiver

Is the dementia reversible or preventable?

Mental stimulation, Exercise, and Balanced Diet have been suggested as ways to delay cognitive symptoms when it comes to healthy older individuals. However, there is no conclusive evidence that might support the effect. Hence, AD often tests the patience and sanity of the loved ones of the patient resulting in extreme stress and emotional breakdown.

Also, AD is one of the costliest diseases resulting in economic stress. AD is most often diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the numbers are slowly showing prevalence in a lesser age group as well and are predicted to affect 1 in 85 people by 2050.

It is, therefore, had become a responsibility of every citizen to spread awareness about it, to abolish the taboo surrounding the disease. Never hesitate to consult the physician at the very first symptom, be it you or your loved ones.

After all, it is said that “Alzheimer’s is the cleverest thief because she not only steals from you but she steals the very thing you need to remember what’s been stolen.” -Jarod Kintz.

Sheeba Vinay is a writer by profession and an aspiring Criminologist. Her write-ups have

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