World Alzheimer’s Day: What’s normal and what isn’t, other symptoms and prevention tips

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    New Delhi: Often, when people start misplacing things, start mixing up names and forget important occasions, fear of memory issues crop up. So, how does one determine that is this just another event of memory lapse or something more serious, like Alzheimer’s disease?

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease which normally starts gradually but worsens overtime. It accounts for 60% to 70% of dementia cases.

    As a person’s (suffering from alzheimer’s) condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, eventually leading to death.

    In the case of old people or elderly, we often misinterpret the early signs of memory loss to an inevitable process of aging and don’t give a serious thought to it. But these seemingly psychological and physiological changes which are often taken for granted can escalate to menacing heights and become a nightmare. That’s why it’s significant to understand the nature of this condition.

    September 21 is observed as World Alzheimer’s Day with an aim to raise awareness about the most common cause of dementia – with AD being its most common form.

    Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease.

    Unfortunately, many people attribute the initial memory lapses as mere phases, thinking that it was just a ‘moment’ they or their family member had.

    So when do we know what’s normal and and when it means something more serious?

    These pointers will help you distinguish:

    • Forgetting a person’s name is normal, but not remembering knowing the person is not normal.
    • Ability to carry on and pursue daily activities despite occasional memory lapses is normal but difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing, maintaining hygiene) and forgetting how to do them is not normal.
    • Misplacing things from time to time like keys, remote is normal but placing them in unusual places and losing them repeatedly is not normal.
    • Not remembering what day it is, is normal but losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time is not normal.
    • Having trouble finding the right word in a conversation is normal but trouble following or joining a conversation while misusing, repeating words is not normal.
    • Having a little trouble in remembering directions is normal but getting lost in familiar places is not normal.
    • Becoming irritated when there is a change in daily scheme of things is normal but becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious often and without any apparent reason is not normal.
    • Making a bad decision once in a while is normal but having trouble making choices and showing poor judgment and behaving in socially inappropriate ways is not normal.
    • Feeling tired of work, society, family occasionally is normal but completely avoiding society and distancing oneself from hobbies, favourite interests is not normal.

    Other symptoms of the onset of Alzheimer’s include:

    • Frequent loss of recent memory in particularly recent conversations, appointments or events.
    • Change in behaviour and mood such as depression and apathy, irritability and aggression.
    • Difficulty in expressing and understanding language (even simple language or common terms in daily conversation).
    • Repeating a statement or question again and again.
    • Difficulty in concentrating, shortened attention span.
    • Difficulty in doing everyday activities that need sequential steps, like operating the washing machine or grinder or cooking a meal.

    As the saying goes – prevention is the best cure. Below are some ways that can help you keep AD/dementia at bay:

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