Facing up to Alzheimers

2016-02-10 06:00

MORE than 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s. in South Africa there are 750 000, and these numbers are rising dramatically. At this stage there is no cure for the disease.

There are very few people who have not been touched in some way - either by a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s. These facts and many interesting aspects were outlined by a knowledgeable guest speaker at the Women's Institute meeting last Wednesday, Sister Rosemary Mukuka, a highly qualified and experienced clinical nurse practitioner.

She outlined the 10 warning signs of the disease and pointed out that by the time these were noticed and identified, the patients already had the build-up for many years.

It is essential that medical advice be obtained as early as possible.

Warning signals:

• memory problems not caused by head injury and/or alcohol;

• language problems - difficulty naming objects;

• zips and buttons difficult to fasten and getting dressed;

• hygiene - do not look after themselves and may not bath;

• extreme mood swings;

• impaired judgment and/or strange behaviour;

• getting lost in familiar places;

• non-recognition of family and friends;

• recall childhood memories, but not current events; and

• suspicious of others and/or accusations of stealing

The impact of Alzheimer’s on family, friends and caregivers can be devastating and heartbreaking. It is common for feelings of guilt, grief, loss and anger to be experienced. Lifestyles have to be changed - whether the patient is cared for at home or is accommodated in a specialised home.

It is important when dealing with anyone with Alzheimer’s to be patient and try not to argue, interrupt or contradict. Speak with a smile “so I know you care”.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia google alz heimersinaction.co.za email alz heimerskzn@alzheimers.org.za or fax or phone 031 702 4321.

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