We all look forward to a time when we can retire from work and enjoy life with our family, pursuing a hobby or living a carefree life. But age also brings with it Fear. A fear of ill-health and disease, any disease no matter how big or small creates a sense of panic amongst us.
“Alzheimer’s, memory loss, How can I talk about that I’m only 50? Isn’t that for only really old people.” These are reactions we received while asking respondents on their understanding and fears regarding Alzheimer’s. We may pity someone with a disease but feign ignorance of it possibly affecting us.
According to RN Mital, president of All India Senior Citizens Council, “It has not really come to my mind about a possibility of getting Alzheimer’s in the future.” Although he has specifically never thought about it he admits to have seen people suffer from the disease and calls it a ‘pitiable and miserable’ condition that after a point in the disease people are not able to take care of their basic needs. Mital has not taken any steps to prevent the disease in the future as he believes nothing will help.
Snehlatha Kumar, a housewife says, “Sometimes I do not remember things like where I have kept a key, but have never looked at it as a possibility of a disease and visited a doctor.” She believes that not much is known about memory loss related illnesses, “We all just usually take not remembering small things as a part of old-age, no one knows much about serious illnesses that could be causing it.”
Col Vinay Sagar (Retd) on the other hand admits to being concerned about Alzheimer’s. According to him, “I try to keep myself healthy and get regular check-ups so that any problem can be detected as it is important that my family does not suffer any problem in the future because of my illness.”
Need for awareness
According to Mital, there needs to be more awareness about the illness, “There needs to be an awakening. People need to be made aware as to how the disease if not prevented at least can be delayed. There are many organisations which take care and assist people with Alzheimer’s.” Col Sagar agrees that awareness is there but the main issue is fear, “People are aware but they are scared to visit a doctor for the fear of some illness getting detected. But what they do not realise is that in the if the illness is detected late it could be a bigger problem. He suggests that insurance companies should make it compulsory for people to get a medical check-up done every 6 months; it could help both the insurance companies as well as the insured. For awareness, Snehlatha believes that a programme to make people within the age-group aware will help educate a large group.
Alzheimer’s as such cannot be prevented but awareness will help people and their families understand the issue and learn how to deal with it with promptness and the right emotions. It’s time to first fight the fear. A person is never too young to think it’s okay to dismiss the need to be aware. It could help you or even someone very close to you in time of need. Take care, fight the fear!