Alzheimer’s Day Observed World-Wide as a Day of Awareness

Be Sympathetic to People Suffering From Alzheimers and Other Forms of Dementia

On Monday, Alzheimers Day was observed throughout the world as a day of awareness of the disease. Often, not many in the family are aware that the elders behaving stragely are actually suffering from Alzheimer or Dementia, an age related disease. We used to scream at elders when they make unnecessary entry into the kitchen or bedroom or when they stare at anything for a long time or keep on muttering words or be repititive. It so happens, they may venture out in the streets or roads, forgetting the way to return home. One can see such people wandering in the roads and streets even today. We never understood their problem. They may be suffering from Alzheimer.

Alzheimer’s Day was observed on 21st September word-wide highlighting the urgent need for action and response and certainly its a day of awareness of the problem which may afflict everyone in old age. The young today will be old tomorrow and they may catch up soon with the disease. It is our endeavour to see that this disease is properly diagnosed and treated.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in the country suffering from this disease and many are not diagnosed and treated. Every second family in India may have one elder suffering from this disease. Family members are unaware of their real problems, fed up with their strange behaviour either throw them out of the house or they themselves wander here and there or are dumped in old age homes.

It is estimated that more than 35 million people are suffering from Alzheimers and Dementia throughout the world, an increase of 10% over 2005 and more than 50% of them were not even detected. With a decrease in mortality rate and increase in health care in countries like India, the population of older people is likely to increase. There is a also an increasing number of people with dementia and it is expected to reach 59 million by 2030 globally, if not treated early.

According to the 2009 World Alzheimer’s Report, newly released from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), a London-based nonprofit, international federation of 71 national Alzheimer organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, currently 35 million, is expected to nearly double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050. There is therefore an urgent need to focus on this problem by every government making it a health care priority.

On Monday in Chennai, health department officials and doctors joined hands with Justice S. Rajeshwaran of the Madras High Court in a human chain at Ayanavam area in the city to create awareness about the disease. The major problem associated with the onset of disease of Alzheimers and dementia was not only a social issue but largely driven by financial constraints. It is said that there are still families who cannot afford to keep people suffering from this disease at home. Therefore it is not just enough to make care available but also it should be affordable and accessible.

Family members have a stellar role to play in taking care of such people suffering from Alzheimers. They must first understand the signs of dementia. Symptoms of dementia vary according to the cause and area of the brain affected. These include: Memory loss especially recent events and not recognising familiar people, places and things. Difficulty with calculations, writing and difficulty controlling moods (depression is common).

Family members, especially sons and daughters should be kind and courteous towards such people. Sit with them, talk to them, be compassionate, engage them. If this becomes severe, take them to the nearest hospital and diagnose it properly. What they need is care, love and affection and not neglect. This is especially necessary as today’s young will become old tomorrow. If they understand and treat elders with such compassion and care, tomorrow our children will take care of us, in case we also become a victim of the disease. Jai Hind.