Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s disease
Without your memory, would you still be you? Would you still be afraid of planes, or spiders? Would you still love to dance to your favourite song? In the rain? Are we defined by our memories of what we love, and what we fear? Are we shaped by our habits and behaviours? Can you imagine not remembering people you love? Can you imagine not remembering your name?
This is the dilemma with Alzheimer’s disease. A disease for which there is no cure.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. A dementia is an illness that strips aways your memory, and, with it, aspects of your personality, habits and behaviour. You may have hated frogs, and are now indifferent. You don’t remember where you live, or how to get there. Your phobia for spiders disappears. You forget that your daughter is your daughter. You are still there. You still need your daughter, and love her. You still feel. You still need understanding and care, compassion, love and joy.
While your memories, behaviour, and habits are integral to who you are, you are more than that. While this illness is devastating in terms of loss of memory, there still is personality and preferences. You are still loved for being you. There is a resilience of spirit, and of relationships, that can only be explained by a refusal to give up.
This is the reality with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of dementia throughout the world, and is increasing.
What has Alzheimer’s Disease International predicted? What will the impact of Alzheimer’s disease be?
|There are about 46.8 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. This is expected to increase to almost 75 million people by 2030.|
The amazing author, Terry Pratchett, who had this illness, donated money to research and increased awareness (Watch his talk on living with the illness). Bill Gates has just announced that his Dad has Alzheimer’s disease, which inspired him to donate $100 million dollars in the hope of finding a cure.
What can you do without millions of dollars to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease?
How can you change the course of Alzheimer’s disease?
1. The most important thing that you can do, is to change the way you live. Changing the way you live, offers you a chance to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. Smoking and eating badly, increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Exercising your body and your mind reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s. Learn more on how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease with these Free Courses.
2. Improve your understanding of brain health
3. Offer to help someone living with the illness. Sometimes all it takes is having a cup of tea, and listening.
4. Increase your understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is, and its impact on people who live with this. A few suggestions follow.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Somebody I used to Know by Wendy Mitchell
The Wide Circumference of Love by Marita Golden
The 36-Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace & Peter V Rabins
I’ll Be Me (Glen Campbell)
5. Join an organisation. Volunteer time or money.
This is a useful list of Alzheimer’s Associations available world-wide.
We can’t cure Alzheimer’s disease.
We can increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
We can improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is a lot to do. All it takes is small, sure steps.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Kirti Ranchod
Founder Neurologist Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health MBBCh (Wits); FC Neurology (SA)
Dr Kirti Ranchod is a neurologist and Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health. She is passionate about brain health. Her aim is to empower people with practical and effective tools combining neuroscience, traditional wisdom and lived experience to achieve this.
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