Down memory lane, I use to wish how I could help all the old people who used to forget a lot and often had problems remembering the names of their loved ones. I never thought this wish of mine would shape itself into the nightmare of my life when my Father started to forget names and started losing himself.
My father got diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It is the basic and the most common form of Dementia. Dementia can be defined as a collection of symptoms of cognitive decline. It was completely an alien disease for us as it was such an unpredictable symptom. He often used to forget our names or sometimes he could just go out without knowing where to go. Then he started having a delay in speaking out words and showing other cognitive changes which were unpredictable and devastating for the whole family. I started to start researching this disease.
The disease was first discovered by Dr. Alois Alzhiemer in 1906.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
The most crucial and vital point to understand about Alzheimer’s Disease is to know that Alzheimer’s is not a Psychological disease, but rather, it is a Neurodegenerative or Neurological brain Disorder.
The simplest way to define the disease is to know a little about the human brain first. A normal human brain functions through a network of cells called Neurons. These neurons are made of proteins. These neurons send electrical signals ( in the form of releasing healthy chemicals) to other neurons and thus the brain gets signals, stores memory, and functions through the signals sent by neurons. Within the network of these neurons, there are other proteins working their work as well, named Beta-amyloid and Tau Protein. In a Brain with Alzheimer's disease, the Amyloid and Tau protein becomes toxic and starts accumulating and forming clumps. The Brains starts to shrink as a result and This clumping of toxins, not only affects the basic neuron functioning, Memory, thinking, but it also affects the vascular system, and hence the whole brain gets affected which in turn starts affecting the rest of the body as well.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible disease. A lot of research is being carried out on this disease now internationally, but in Pakistan, rarely a few doctors and medical institutes have genuine knowledge, treatments, and diagnosis. Most Pakistani Public treats Alzheimer's Patients to be mentally challenged person due to their own lack of knowledge about this disease.
Stages of Alzheimer's
There are 7 stages of Alzheimer's researched internationally
No Decline Signs
Very Mild Decline
Moderately severe Decline
Very Severe Decline
Stages of Alzheimer's researched in Pakistan
1. Pre SIgns 2. Early SIgns 3. Moderate SIgns 4. Advanced Stage
Lack of Sleep
Language and speech delay
Difficulty eating, praying, recalling, holding the thing, and other cognitive functions
Lack of Body Balance
Emotional, Physical and Psychological dependency
Lack of Vision
Lack of emotional balance
Lack of hearing
Paranoia or simply Fear of falling, bathing, etc.
Lack of Decisive power
Lack of remembering places ad relations etc.
And the devastating list goes on just like this progressive disease.
Causes There are major researches being done Internationally and also in Pakistan to know the main cause of Alzheimer's and Dementia but so far it is unknown. Many factors are involved and can become the cause of this disease. Some of the so far researched main causes are
Lifestyle changes that affect brain
A person having Alzheimer's disease history in the family
Genetics ( risk genes( risk genes are the ones that increase the risk of developing the diseases of Alzheimer's) and deterministic genes ( deterministic genes are the ones that directly causes the disease)
Stats in Pakistan According to research, Pakistan ranks sixth with 150,000-200,000 patients suffering from dementia
Diagnosis and Treatments in Pakistan Alzheimer's is a very complex and unpredictable disease. There is no cure for this progressive disease. Lifestyle changes and managing the behavioral symptoms of the patient, proper care, Nutritious Diet, and loss of love is the only cure. if we talk about Pakistan, then not much treatment is being done regarding Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Usually, Brain Tests (MRI, PET, and CT scan) are done, reasoning skills check through neuropsychological tests, reflexes are checked, tests for vision and hearing, body balance check, Coordination and response check, muscle strength check are mostly done.
In the end, there can be no words better to this poem to end this unending discussion.
"Please BE with me, dear."