If a senior member of the family aged above 65 years, starts asking repetitive questions or conversations, misplaces personal belongings, gets lost on a familiar route, the chances are that the person may have developed dementia.
The worst of all dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which demands 24 hours care of the patient. The rising incidents of Alzheimer’s disease have become a matter of concern for urban populations in India and western nations where it is more common.
Alzheimer’s is an indication that the senior member of the family needs full time care. In worst cases people with Alzheimer’s might forget their loved ones.
Forgetting how to dress themselves, feed themselves and use the toilet is merely a hint to the other members of the family that more affection and care has to be showered on the patient.
The disease makes brain tissues break down over time. To understand better, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease linked to nerve cells of the brain and leads to progressive brain cell death.
The tangles occur within the nerve cells, with which it becomes harder for people to remember recent events, to reason, and to recognise people they know.
Ritu Suri, an entrepreneur, whose mother has Alzheimer’s for the past few years said, “Alzheimer’s is a killer, it hurts the patient and the family together. When your mom has dementia or Alzheimer’s, it really hurts. My mother started having these symptoms seven years ago and we thought of it as nothing in the beginning. But it started to get worse day by day. Now she is forgetting everyone in the family except her own mom and grandfather alone and some very old moments spent with them.”
Sometimes it is so painful when her grandchildren come with so fondness for her but she fails to recognise them, she added.
In the western countries, Alzheimer’s disease is very much common; in US alone it affects more than five million people and now it is taking a rising trend in India too. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 66 seconds, someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease slowly destroys memory and thinking capacity of a person, and it eventually prevents the ability to complete even the simplest of tasks while the person still remembers the old happenings of his life.
Dr VK Agnihotri, an Ayurvedic expert and medicine consultant said, “Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder and old age problem covering a vast area of the world. It starts with early symptoms of memory loss, medically known as dementia. Old Indian culture is the best remedy where the senior parents are taken care of with full respect, honour and their involvement in family decisions. They are not only adored but made to feel that they are needed and are essential assets of the family.”
As a conservative treatment, some Ayurvedic treatments like pinch of turmeric with milk twice a day helps keep this disease at bay said Agnihotri. Transfusion of safe blood by same family member also brings about improvement. As day care measure, the belongings of the old people like stick, spectacles, newspaper and clothing must be kept easily accessible, added the expert.
Engaging the older people in art activities, using music and the things of their interest is also known to reduce the effect of dementia in elderlies.
Robbed of their memory, initially, people have a hard time remembering recent events, though they might easily recall things that happened years ago. “All you need is to show the elders at home that they are wanted, they are needed. The nerve related disorders mainly originate in the mind so mind must be kept cool and occupied,” said Namrata Mishra, psychological counselor.