Alzheimer. Not a new terminology for all of us, right? According to the dictionary, it’s a type of Dementia(loss of memory). Hold up, it’s more than just a memory loss. Lets brush up some basic information about it (Information source: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp)

Around 1 million people a year are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in India, and it usually affects the population of 65+. So what exactly happens to the brain? The brain undergoes a few changes and results in the release of a few toxic chemicals. The brain begins to form abnormal clumps and tangles bundles of fiber. As a result , there is obvious loss of connections between nerve cells. According to studies, there are 7 stages of this disorder.

alzheimer

Stage 1: Non-noticeable, no memory loss. But the toxicants have already started their production inside the brain cells

Stage 2: Memory losses that may seem normal, such as forgetting the location of an everyday object, or forgetting a familiar word

Stage 3: Noticeable difficulty in performing tasks at a work place. Misplacing a valuable object. Forgetting names, words

Stage 4: impaired ability to perform challenging arithmetic problems. Forgetting own’s personal history

Stage 5: Unable to recall their own address. Confusion about where they are and what they were doing

Stage 6: Ability to distinguish faces, but forgetting names of their spouses or care givers. Tend to wander or get lost. Troubles in controlling bowel movements

Stage 7: Loss of ability to respond to environment, to carry on a conversation. Reflexes weaken. Swallowing gets impaired

Now there’s a reason behind why I’m writing this. I was apprehensive of uploading this, because it’s something that tips me over the edge, because it’s a sensitive topic, because I don’t like to be very open about what’s happening in my head. But if you are reading this, then it is because of the lack of awareness my family had, despite us being pretty literate. My paati was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s only during the Stage 4, approximately one year ago, because we neglected it as a memory loss that happens to everyone with age.




We had to introduce a few of our distant relatives to paati yet again, and that’s when we knew that something was just not right. From making my paati understand that it’s 2 am and it’s not the time to bathe , in the beginning, to now , spoon-feeding her because she lost the control of her voluntary moments, we’ve faced a lot of hurdles. From helping her recall my name, to making her realise that I’m her granddaughter, I know I have a bitter journey ahead of me. Trust me , nothing has been worse than trying to swallow this bitter pill, for me. It’s easier for me, I’d say , in a way that I’m 350 kms away and my parents are the people actually going through the hard times of dealing with her. But that also becomes a hard to digest , because I’m afraid I’m no zero help. But this dawned upon me that caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients need constant support and positivity around them, which is probably the only thing I can provide, at this juncture.

Cutting it short, this disease is lot more than just a random dementia. The worst part is there is no cure to Alzheimer’s because the brain shrinks dramatically ,with every stage crossed. But yes, I’m going to be optimistic(because I should) and think that someone , in some corner of this world is working towards inventing a medication for the same. And here goes my first step towards achieving optimism-coming out and talking about it, which has by far been the most disturbing fact.

Iswarya Ramakrishnan

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