The pains of man is endless as different humans go through different struggles in life but health challenges always tops the list as it requires more attention from people.
Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disorder that affects the brain, making it degenerate and die slowly as the victim suffers is quite common as almost 1.5 million people get diagnosed with it yearly in Nigeria alone and about 28 million people worldwide. Its characteristics include but not limited to reduction in reasoning abilities, regressive mental awareness which in turn affects behavioral and social capabilities and occasionally, mild dementia. The end result of these symptoms make the patient lose the ability to get basic things done without help. In some cases, Alzheimer’s disease hit so hard that an individual suddenly forgets who or where he is after having an episode.
The most common early sign of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetfulness. A person might be in the middle of a task and suffer an episode or a sharp decline in brain functions which might make him collapse or just suddenly forget why they are where they are or how they even got there in the first place. Some of the more serious symptoms include:
• Memory loss: this occurs when the Alzheimer’s patient suddenly remembers little or nothing about their life, work or family. Everything suddenly turns blank like it never existed and they get so confused as to why that is. In some cases, they forget the way home and when this occur, a lot of patients start roaming around and asking questions in a confused state to know where they live.
• Decline in thinking and reasoning abilities: There is a sharp and constant decline in the brains power and ability to think and arrive at solutions as everything becomes unclear and memory lapses occur. The individual will suddenly lack the ability to provide solutions to problems he or she has once solved without breaking a sweat thereby leading to career crisis or having trouble in the home.
• Loss of ability to execute simple tasks: Execution of tasks like washing, driving, eating and cooking becomes a task that seems alien to them. They struggle with it and with the steady loss of thinking and reasoning abilities, they will suddenly lack the ability to come to a solution to execute the task at hand which often makes them feel down and useless.
• Emotional strain: Not being able to perform basic functions one has performed all his life can be quite depressing. Since they have to rely on people to help them with simple functions like dosage of pills to take, cooking and cleaning, this will make them feel like they are losing control over their lives. It can be very painful when an hobby gets affected badly by the inability of the brain to process how it was once done.
There are quite a number of causes for this disease and they include:
• Genetics: genes that carry alzheimer’s disease can be passed down from one generation to another if care is not taken. Having an alzheimer’s patient in the family is a clear indication that it has been in the family genes or it just joined it. The probability of getting the disease from the genes is very high as it can be passed from parents to their child.
• Poor sleep patterns: Not sleeping well enough might affect the functionality of the brain. People who suffer heavily from insomnia have the tendency to develop alzheimer’s disease later on in life due to the amount of pressure put on the brain.
• Accidents: Having suffered a major blow or trauma to the head in an accident can trigger alzheimer’s disease. Some Patients have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after suffering a huge blow to the brain. That is why it is essential to always put on your seat belts/helmets and drive safely too.
• Bad lifestyle: smoking, taking narcotics and other substances can have a damaging effect to the brain. Studies have shown that more than 62% of people who have had experience with substance abuse have been diagnosed alzheimer’s disease in the last ten years with their age ranging from 59-94 years old. Cocaine and other substances have damaging effects to the brain which results in a lot of things and alzheimer’s is one of the deadly results.
Having a parent, sibling or spouse suffering from alzheimer’s disease means nothing can ever be the same again as they demand round the clock care and attention. The effects of the disease on family and career can sometimes outweigh the effects of the disease on its victim itself. A lot of large cooperations have closed shop due to their owners being diagnosed with alzheimer’s disease and a lot of families have been shattered and broken by the diagnosis as well. Oftentimes, the feeling of guilt and anger takes over and family members begin to blame each other for either being too careless or for ridiculous reasons like asking the patient why he had to ruin their plans with his health status. A lot of spouses file for divorce when they discover what caring for an alzheimer’s disease patient entails while some just ghost them and vanish into thin air. Careers have plummeted and stocks drop to the lowest price when news gets out that the person at the helms of affairs is down with a mental illness. In rare cases, career minded patients tend to hold on a little bit and try to manage the illness with medications so as to keep the business running but it is usually not for long as the ability to do basic intellectual activities gets lost gradually as the brain dies.
Patients and families are usually advised to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario that will become their new reality in a matter of time. Families can take it slow, read and research more on the disease and exercise great patience when dealing with a patient suffering from alzheimer’s disease and patients should also prepare themselves and brace up too. It is advisable to keep a diary of ones life so as to be able to have some basic information about themselves and to keep a card on their person at all times when they step out which can help people around them identify who they are and how their families can be reached.