We’ve become so accustomed to hearing about certain illnesses and diseases that often the rest get overlooked, yet they too affect individuals and families on a large scale.
Dementia isn’t something we often hear about and as two individuals who have been exposed to it first hand, we know that awareness needs to increase drastically.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term and aren’t too sure what it fully encompasses. In short, dementia is a debilitating brain disorder that not only affects the patient but also their families and their loss of memory and even understanding of this world is a difficult journey to walk.
Cipla has launched a campaign to drive awareness about dementia, and more importantly Alzheimer’s Disease which has increased amongst an ageing population.
Cipla is committed to helping people live long and healthier lives, but also know that education is key and we all need to pay more attention to our cognitive well-being.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia but thankfully, studies show us that making healthier lifestyle choices, potentially reduces the risk of this cognitive decline. But what more can be done?
Mentally engaging activities should be high on the priority list, even for short periods of time. And although none of this guarantees that someone will not be diagnosed, or for those already diagnosed, that they won’t regress, every intentional action helps for a better future.
It’s a sad reality that there isn’t a full understanding of dementia, and that it is often associated with a stigma. Finding meaningful ways to share educational information is a indeed vital.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that eventually disrupts a person’s ability to function independently.
And although studies have shown that starting treatment for patients living with Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible may help them remain independent for longer, eventually it catches up. However, medicine has been effective in preventing several behavioural symptoms such as agitation, aggression, irritability and night-time behaviour in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Our journey with Alzheimer’s Disease
Alrick’s mom has suffered with this disease for several years and unfortunately it’s been emotionally and financially straining on him for quite some time, something many people don’t know. And for a long time, he shut people out and didn’t invite anyone to his house.
Thing is, support is always needed!
Having seen her suffer from this first-hand has been challenging for me too, and has often left me feeling helpless. She faints, experiences seizures and I’ve never felt comfortable enough to have a conversation with her. She often takes objects and hides them, and Alrick has also stayed home alone with her to ensure she’s okay. So in the long run that has affected us, despite me being understanding and many couples don’t have to deal with it, at least not early on in their relationship.
A year and a bit later, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, especially seeing how much it affects him from time to time, emotionally as well and there’s not much I can do but just be there, which doesn’t always seem like enough.
How families are affected
The effects on primary caregivers can be particularly difficult.
In addition to balancing the normal activities of family, career and personal time, caregivers also devote themselves to round-the-clock care and support of their loved ones. For any normal human being, the increasing level of commitment required can be burdensome, exhausting and even dangerous. It is important to be cognisant of these issues and seek help where need be.
As a result of their daily devotion to a loved one, primary caregivers can experience a poorer quality of life for themselves. Specifically, caregivers experience high rates of physical illness, social isolation, emotional distress, and financial hardship compared to non-caregivers in the population. Something no one truly stops to consider.
It is vitally important for families to understand the potential risks and consequences in advance and take steps to prepare for them. The sooner you organise your resources and develop a plan for care, the less stressful and draining your life will be or could be, as living in South Africa is challenging enough.
How we can play our part
Some people might not know how to deal with the treacherous onslaught of having to give up their entire lives to care for someone, others might suffer from financial difficulty when trying to provide care for their loved ones, and some might not have the mental capacity to deal with these.
We can educate them by talking to them about it, showing presence, and researching government institutions that will assist financially to give care for their loved ones or the individual suffering from the disease. People do not expect to have to care for their loved ones when they start to suffer from the disease, so educating yourself is important, but also preparing for the worst at all times and making others aware of what you have dealt with as a caregiver, so that you can create awareness for those that don’t understand it.
Cipla South Africa
Cipla is helping to raise awareness of the disease with a unique campaign. As mentioned, that although there is no treatment that can reverse the disease, medication along with activities such as building puzzles, can help to slow the decline.
For families and friends of Alzheimer’s patients, we’re encouraging everyone to do two things.
One: visit http://bit.ly/32T3Jo4 and upload a photograph of a special memory and Cipla will convert it into a puzzle to help you preserve a cherished moment.
Two: share your story to help others find hope. Help Cipla build a collection of inspirational, real stories by sharing some aspect of your journey to empowerment. And keep spreading the message.