Muhammad Ikramullah, a university professor by profession, takes care of his 90-year-old father sort of a two-year-old child who requires around the clock care.
“My life might be tons easier albeit he acted sort of a five-year-old because a five-year-old child does understand what’s being said while my father doesn’t,” says, 52-year-old Ikramullah.
It was 2008 when 82-year-old Ikramullah’s father first started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “We thought it had been adulthood and didn’t pay much attention, but after two years when our mother gave up the ghost in 2010, he refused to admit her demise and kept calling for her,” he says.
After these episodes became frequent, Ikramullah and his siblings took their father to a psychiatrist who prescribed medicines but they were of no help. Their father was diagnosed with a severe stage of Alzheimer’s and his condition turned from bad to worse over the years.
Taking Alzheimer’s seriously
Dr Muhammad Wasay, neurologist at the Aga Khan University, explains that Alzheimer’s may be a sort of dementia that mainly occurs in aging people. Around 10-15% of aging people suffer from it while around 30% are over the age of 80.
“It is vital to teach folks that if your parents or grandparents suffer from a amnesia they have to require it seriously and consult a neurologist immediately,” he says.
Most people bring their parents to us, says Dr Wasay, once they are during a severe stage of the disease but it’s too late then and symptoms can’t be treated. “Only when the patient becomes difficult to handle and requires a 24-hours medical care do relations consider taking them to a neurologist,” he adds.
As a result, early intervention is vital and for that there’s a requirement to make awareness among masses that amnesia at adulthood is an illness and is preventable, though not curable.
“This disease are often treated with right medication in order that it progresses slowly and therefore the patient remains functional,” says Dr Wasay.
Alzheimer’s disease has three stages: mild, moderate and severe. Dr Wasay explains if mild Alzheimer’s isn’t treated, it transforms into moderate symptoms in three to 5 years.
Similarly, if that is still untreated it can address severe within the next three to 5 years. “In severe Alzheimer’s a patient becomes totally hooked in to his/her family. they can’t even eat or attend the restroom. Simply put, they become sort of a toddler who requires around the clock care.”
Other symptoms of severe Alzheimer’s include lack of bladder and bowel control, weight loss, seizures, skin infections, groaning, moaning, or grunting and difficulty swallowing.
Dr Wasay also mentions that Alzheimer’s may be a degenerate disease and there are not any main causes. As an individual gets old his/her neurons start dying and in Alzheimer’s the memory is affected.
It is also pertinent to notice that Alzheimer’s doesn’t run within the family and maybe only 5% of the disease transfers into relations . “In the planet , women’s anticipation is above men so women are at a better risk of Alzheimer’s than men.”
Moroever, people diagnosed with disorder or ones at a risk of it have a better chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Social implications for caregivers
Taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient is emotionally, mentally and physically draining as there’s no support by the govt , says Psychiatrist Dr Nazila Bano Khalid. Therefore, the onus is on someone within the family who takes care of the patient.
“We got to educate caregivers that they ought to not recoil from seeking help from other relations or maybe neighbors. it’s our family value to require care of our parents so we work selflessly and forget ourselves, but caregivers should seek help and lookout of themselves too.”
For Ikramullah there are days when he thinks life doesn’t have much to supply him, except anger and sadness. And for people like him, Dr Khalid advises that they have to strengthen their social network in order that they feel strong.
“If a caregiver’s aggression and sadness continue, (s)he may blow out . Hence, they ought to not recoil from seeking professional help.”