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  • Writer's pictureDr Rahuls Elder Care

Has Moon Lost Her Memory- A Guide to Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

Ananthan wakes up early in the morning and gets ready to go to office. His driver takes him there but the office is shut. His driver tells him that an employee has died; hence the office is closed for the day and drives Ananthan back home. Back home, an upset Ananthan seeks out his mother and tells her about the death. Ananthan retired 20 years ago and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. His mother died 40 years ago.

Sekhar prays for his mother’s death every day. His life and that of his family have become a nightmare because his mother is in the advanced stages of dementia. It has been five years since Sekhar has had a vacation with his family, as they cannot leave his mother alone and no one else wants to keep her. More than the physical stress of keeping his mother and his home clean, Sekhar is emotionally drained. His mother doesn’t even remember him.

September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s disease develops as a result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions. Some risk factors — such as age or genes — cannot be changed, but others — such as high blood pressure and lack of exercise — usually can be changed to help reduce risk.

Dementia is a broad term that describes symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills, severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80% of cases.

We believe we can prevent dementia by...

Being physically active. Daily aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming are shown to have a more beneficial effect on your cognition than weight-bearing and endurance exercises.

Taking care of your heart. This includes maintaining a proper weight, a balanced diet, keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control and taking heart medications regularly.

Enjoying social activity. Meeting friends, involving in community programmes and volunteering helps in keeping the brain engaged. Use of social media is useful for people who cannot interact due to physical constraints.

Challenging the brain. Cognitive stimulating games help in keeping alert and preserving key brain functions. Learning a new language is another way of keeping the brain healthy.

We can delay the progression by...

Visiting a doctor at the first sign. The doctor may prescribe drugs to delay and/or reduce the symptoms.

Cognitive stimulating therapy (CST) for people with mild to moderate dementia. It has clinically shown to improve and enhance the cognitive skills of people with mild to moderate dementia.

We can help the case by...

Educating family members about the disease.

Making the home safe for people with dementia.

Founding support groups for people taking care of people with dementia.

Myths and Facts

Myth Busting

Myth: The ageing brain can’t learn new things.

Wrong. The ageing brain can still learn new things like a new language.

Myth: Older people will definitely have dementia.

Wrong. Though there are some age-related changes in brain function as we age, dementia is not part of normal ageing.

Myth: The brain doesn’t grow.

Wrong. Latest research in brain function has shown that the brain has an intrinsic property to regrow neurons; a term called neuroplasticity.

Myth: All dementia is progressive.

Wrong. There are reversible causes for dementia. If they are identified early and corrected, there are high chances of complete recovery.

Myth: All dementia is due to Azheimer’s disease.

Wrong. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes for dementia.

Early signs of dementia

- Inability to perform day-to-day tasks

- One of the earliest signs is forgetting recently-learned information

- Difficulty in multi-tasking and following step-wise instructions (cooking, balancing cheque books)

- Familiar tasks become complicated (forgetting the rules of a game, difficulty in locating a road or finding directions to familiar places)

- Misplacing things and an inability to find them

- Disorientation with time, place, and people

- Trouble reading sign boards and difficulty in identifying shapes (reading, judging distances, making sense of colours)

- Trouble with speaking, reading and writing (forgetting words, losing track of conversations, getting confused about spellings)

- Poor decision-making, especially in money management

- Withdrawal from social activities and depression

- Changes in personality (may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious)

Dr Rahul Padmanabhan is a consultant in Geriatrics and Gerontology with a decade of experience in elder care. He specializes in home and community based geriatrics and is currently medical director of Dr Rahul’s Elder Care, Coimbatore.

Dr Rahul's Elder Care is top geriatric Care service providers in Coimbatore.

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