Weaving a sweet memory

The extra little care to remember you by

As the Bengaluru twilight took on the shade of a dark grey, her memories grew even darker and then vanished. The 36-year familiar streets now lay unknown before her eyes. The park on her left, where her grandson had taken his first steps grew blurry and the bougainvillea covered house on the right, which she often envied, looked equally mysterious. She tried with all her might to remember where she was, but only darkness danced in her mind. Tired, confused and helpless, she clutched her unevenly buttoned sweater and wandered away farther –barefoot.

Meanwhile, frenzy and sheer agony filled the Gowda household, for no one knew where Nima Ajji had gone away. All they knew was that the 67-year-old woman used to often forget things. But why would she forget to leave the house without informing others? Why would she forget to wear her slippers? And why would she not return home on time? The truth was, they had failed to realise that Alzheimer’s—a close comrade of old age was taking a toll on Ajji’s memory and a little extra care would have helped her to find her way back home .

However, Nima is not the only grandma, whose old age is scarred by forgetfulness. In India, more than a million old people have some form of dementia. While the forgetfulness can’t be dealt away with completely, geriatrics— an exclusive healthcare focusing on old people— helps them age actively and healthily. The Geriatrics department at PEOPLE TREE Hospitals understands and treats various ailments of an elderly person like blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure issues, arthritis, kidney infection and even complex disorders like Parkinson’s disease, strokes, balance problems, falls, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Dinesh Kumar has explained in a meticulous manner about the disease and its stages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common forms of dementia and usually affects older people. The cause of the disease still not clearly understood. The most common and often earliest clinical manifestation of Alzheimer’s is selective memory impairment, although there are exceptions.

Alzheimer's disease typically progresses slowly. For our understanding we divide Alzheimer’s disease into three general stages, mild (early stage), moderate (middle stage), and severe (late stage). Alzheimer's affects each individual in a different way. The timing and severity of dementia symptoms varies in each person. On average, a person with Alzheimer's lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors. Ab Alzheimer's inflicted person function independently in the initial stages. He or she may still work and be part of social activities. However the person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. At this stage, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration.

Moderate Alzheimer's is typically the longest stage and can go on for many years. As the disease advancess, the person with Alzheimer's will require a greater level of care. ​

During the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, the dementia symptoms are more eminent. A person may have greater difficulty performing tasks, such as paying bills, but they may still remember significant details about their past life.

During the latter part of moderate disease person might get frustrated or angry, or may act in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe. Damage to nerve cells in the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. Person can also become moody or withdrawn, especially when put in socially or mentally challenging situations. A few Alzheimer’s patients may also face trouble controlling bladder and bowels, changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night an increased risk of wandering and becoming lost. Personality and behavioural changes, including suspiciousness and delusions may also streak in.

In the final stage of this disease, dementia symptoms are severe. Individuals not only lose the ability to respond to their environment, but also find it difficult to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases, but communication is highly hindered. As memory and cognitive skills continue to worsen, significant personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals might need round-the-clock vigilance and assistance with daily activities and personal care. Physically person becomes very frail, unable to walk or sit and eventually swallowing will be lost. At this stage they are vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia.

While treatments are available to improve some symptoms, currently there is no cure available, and the disease inevitably progresses in all patients.

According to Geriatrician Dr. Dinesh Kumar, while most Alzheimer’s patients tend to experience a similar trajectory from the beginning of the illness to its end, every person experiences the disease differently.

Hence, our team is highly specialised in understanding the various needs of the elderly people who have been begun facing memory loss and helps both the patients and their families to cope with the ailment as the disorder aggravates.

If we identify the disease early, we can prescribe certain special medications to slow down the disease and enhance the memory and concentration. During moderate stages we can put both medical and social strategies to help to maintain the independence of the person and can prescribe certain medications to reduce the behavioural problems.

During the final stages of the disease we can make sure that the person who is suffering from advance Alzheimer’s disease can be given appropriate palliative measures to control his or her symptoms and make sure that unnecessary interventions can be avoided. We can make sure the final journey of a person should be as less traumatic as possible. We can also address the care giver’s burden as the loved ones who are looking after the persons with Alzheimer’s also need substantial support.

“At PEOPLE TREE Hospitals, we have excellent physiotherapist to address the mobility issues, speech and language along with dieticians, who ensure a correct intake of nutrition and excellent psychogeriatric team along with psychologists can provide appropriate interventions to both patient and to their relatives. As a geriatrician, I will be supervising and co-ordinating all the care required at specific time of the disease,” assured Dr. Kumar, who has 20 years of experience in senior care.

Apart from Alzheimer’s, the Geriatric department of PEOPLE TREE Hospitals also specialises in several other Psycho geriatric ailments. We strive to make your Sweet 60+ pleasant by helping you assess and manage other neurocognitive disorders like Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, alcohol related brain damage, post head injury cognitive impairment and thus stay younger and healthy.