You’ve idolised him all your life. He’s the one who held your hand and taught you to walk, stood by you through thick and thin, attended every sports day and parent teacher meet and soothed every scraped knee.
He was the proudest when you graduated and happiest when your pay cheque was fatter than his. But today, your dad fails to recognise you even as you desperately try to remind him of the days when you were a little girl playing on his knee.
The situation is similar for every Alzheimer’s patient’s family. A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s affects a person’s memory, behaviour and cognitive abilities. What’s worse is, it gets worse gradually over time, making it extremely difficult to cope with for both the patient and his/her family.
“While the exact causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are not known, there are certain risk factors associated with the condition,” says Dr Amitav Ray, consultant neurosurgeon at Apollo Hospital, adding, “Alzheimer’s as we know is one of the causes of pre-senile dementia. But it is not a normal part of ageing.”
Alzheimer’s is generally related to age, although it is not a normal part of ageing. Having a family history of AD can also put you at higher risk. There are certain genes like that are linked to AD. “According to some studies, lifestyle habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and failing to stimulate the brain can also be some of the causes of AD,” says Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist.
Signs to watch out for The signs usually point at cognitive difficulties and mental function. Some of the early signs of AD include:
1)Difficulty performing tasks that take some thought, but used to come easily, such as simple calculations, playing complex games (such as bridge), and learning new information or routines
2)Getting lost on completely familiar routes
3)Trouble naming familiar objects or recalling names
4)Finding it difficult to evoke interest to do things that one previously enjoyed, mood swings
6)Personality changes and loss of social skills
As the AD gets worse so do the symptoms:
1)Change in sleep patterns
2)Delusions, depression, agitation
3)Difficulty doing basic tasks
4)Difficulty reading or writing
5)Forgetting events in your own life
6)Hallucinations, arguments, striking out and violent behaviour
7)Poor judgment and loss of ability to recognise danger
8)Avoiding from social contact