I just can’t remember…

By Naduni Dinethra

Instagram: @nadunidinethra

LinkedIn: Naduni Dinethra

I am sure all of you have the experience of forgetting things, important or otherwise. It is only human nature to forget certain things. If I ask you now what you had for breakfast yesterday, you may take some time to recall it, but within a matter of seconds your quick brain cells will spin out the answer for you.

However, what I wish to bring to your attention is forgetfulness, progressively growing worse causing you to forget not only your cherished memories but the names of everyday objects, the ability to speak, do everyday activities and in other words cause your life, to change course unexpectedly.

This form of dementia (irreversible loss of brain function affecting memory), named after its founder Dr Alois Alzheimer is called Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is when you go shopping and wonder why you went there in the first place. I’m kidding (though that’s also a relatable instance!)

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible condition that leads to the death of brain cells thereby slowly destroying memory and the ability to think. Usually, it develops in people over the age of 65 but it can develop in people young as 35. This is called early-onset disease.

An initial symptom would be short- term memory loss. A simple scenario would be, a victim of Alzheimer’s may remember details of their wedding which happened 50 years back but may not remember if they’ve had lunch a few minutes after leaving the table!

 

What simply happens in Alzheimer’s disease is, as neurons are damaged and continue to die, the links between the network of neurons will be disabled causing many regions of the brain to shrink causing significant loss of volume of the brain.

Eventually, people with this disease will require constant attention. They may not be able to recognize loved ones and walking and talking will become harder. They may become more aggressive or restless with the progression of the disease. But it’s important to remember that although a person fails to recognize you, they will not fail to recognize your love and gentleness.

At present, no drug can cure Alzheimer’s disease but what can be done is slow down the rate at which people’s symptoms worsen. A dug by the name of Memantine is being used to temporarily stop the destruction of brain cells but the drug can induce side effects such as hallucinations. Alternative treatments also include Acupuncture, herbal remedies or massage.

Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes be inherited in families (it can be inherited from parents through a faulty gene) but mostly it appears in a person all of a sudden although it has been discovered that people who have suffered injuries in their head and neck are more susceptible.

There is no single test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease but a brain scan such as Computerized Tomography (CT scan) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan) can contribute greatly. The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) can be applied to identify the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Initially, it can be done at home and for further examination, it can be taken to a specialist.

Even as you are reading this, there are so many people and their families suffering both mentally and physically due to the cruel nature of Alzheimer’s, struggling to remember things we effortlessly do.

“My memory might not be as good as it was, but that doesn’t stop me from being me.”

-Anonymous person with Alzheimer’s disease quoted in the book Tangles and Starbursts by Sharon Bailey and Julia Darling.

Picture reference: https://pixabay.com/

Need to know Alzheimer’s Disease – Jim McGugan

National Institute of Aging – What is Alzheimer’s Disease

 

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