Break away the stigma - World Alzheimer’s Day
Alzheimer’s-Dementia, a lot of people have little or no understanding of these dreaded illnesses.
My mum died at 88 having lived a good long life and she was my first touch point with dementia. She had dementia for a good 10 years and her memory deteriorated as the years went by. She could remember things that happened in the second world war vividly but cold not remember things that happened the day or week before. I never understood the disease and on a trip to Australia I attended a 3-day workshop on how to handle a loved one going through the stages of dementia. The workshop changed my perspective on how to care and handle those afflicted with dementia. From being short tempered and irritable with my mum, overnight I changed to become a caring, a good listener, patient and understanding daughter as she went through the remaining stages and passed away 5 years later. Today, I`m always on hand to give advice to my friends who have aged parents and who need understanding and assistance to deal with dementia as it affects their parents.
Dementia is really a set of symptoms showing memory loss and difficulties for a person to think or speak coherently. Starting small, it may become serious to affect one`s daily life and changes moods and behaviours become more apparent. How is this illness caused? Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Today there are still no treatments available to prevent, delay or stop the disease progression, which makes the necessity of addressing this unmet need even more pertinent.
Ten years ago, in 2012 on the 21 September, World Alzheimer’s Day was launched to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia. Can we overcome these issues and help people live well with dementia? Yes, it may be a slow development but new hope for Alzheimer’s patients and the people who care for them will be forthcoming. Organisations need to work together and collaborate and share best practices with one another to overcome the increasing number of people with dementia. Statistics have indicated that worldwide there are nearly 50 million people living with dementia.
Dementia is scary and once you have been diagnosed with this dreaded illness you get to feel that your life is doomed. Fear overcomes you and depression sets in as you may not know what to do next. The immediate family members too are worried as to the future care of their loved one and this thought can be frightening and debilitating to them. This year`s theme for World Alzheimer’s Day is focused on “stigma” We need to break the stereotypes and myths that surround a dementia diagnosis.
There needs to be more education about the disease and more awareness of what can be done so that we can break the stigma and dispel the ignorance about the disease. Dementia isn’t to be taken lightly and the people affected by it deserve to be treated with dignity, understanding and respect. Since its inception, the impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is increasing. However, the lack of information surrounding the illness and the stigma still remains a global problem and more needs to be done.
Knowing that there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, what can be done to avoid or slow down the onset of this illness. The following lifestyle choices can help and here`s what one can do:
- Mentally challenging the brain- Engaging in intellectual activities later in life. This can help maintain cognitive abilities. It’s a fact that people older than the age of 65 who read or played games were less likely to develop dementia.
- Be physically active- To try doing balancing exercises and maintaining muscle strength especially in the legs for the elderly is important as they grow older. This is to reduce the risk of falls. Having regular physical activity is a boon. The greatest danger is not doing anything.
- Follow a healthy diet - Maintaining a stable weight, and eating a healthy diet of less sugary foods, and refraining from smoking.
- Enjoy social activity- Social interaction and talking to people, walking with others, and chatting over tea, coffee, or food — activities that one may find pleasure in doing with others.