Remember those who cannot remember! Taking a Look into Alzheimer’s Disease
While we are busy capturing the moments of our lives through lenses, using a camera or phone, there are some people sitting in their homes or in hospitals trying to remember the moments they had in their lives! Alas, they can’t…
They have Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common cause of Dementia…
Dementia is not a single disease but rather an umbrella term defining a group of symptoms that occurs due to neuronal degeneration in the brain and impacts one’s cognition. It is a condition that has affected more than 55 million people all over the world and almost 60% of them are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. The report from Alzheimer’s Disease International suggests that someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds.
Now let’s go back to the history of Alzheimer’s Disease…
Around 100 years ago from today, in 1901, a lady named Auguste Deter came along with a “Peculiar Disease” to a young German psychiatrist, Dr. Alos Alzheimer. The 50-year-old lady was reported to have unusual memory problems, aggressiveness and a fear that something bad will happen to her. Due to her progressive memory loss, she was soon shifted to the Munich Hospital under Dr. Emil Kraepelin who was also a teacher of Dr. Alzheimer. In 1906 , Mrs. Deter passed away and she never got to know that her story had changed the world after that. Dr. Alzheimer was studying Mrs. Deter’s brain under the microscope and this is when he found some unidentified foreign body (Now we call it Amyloid Plaque). He presented the case at a medical conference and called it a “Peculiar Disease”. Although the presentation was not successful enough to capture the attention of the clinical and science world of that time, Dr. Alzheimer continued studying patients with similar conditions and documented them. 5 years later, in 1910 , Dr. Emil Kraepelin documented the case of Mrs. Deter and named it Alzheimer’s Disease in the memory of his student Dr. Alos Alzheimer in the eighth edition of the Textbook of Psychiatry.
To date, there is no medication available to cure the condition. Although, an early-stage diagnosis can help treat the condition up to a certain point by slowing down the disease progression. So , creating awareness for dementia is very important!
People with Alzheimer’s can neither remember the past, nor can they think about the future. But, they live in the moment. For them, the present is the past and future. Memory is the sweetest gift that we all have in our life. It allows us to live, to remember, to learn, to cherish, to fear and to walk down a world of imagination whenever we recall all that we have left in the past. But, for them, all of these are none but a story of an hour maybe. They know that they have forgotten things, but there is nothing in their hand, it can’t be changed.
Alzheimer’s is a condition for elderly people, the people who have created thousands of memories over the last 55 or 60 years. A lot of people, places, and incidents have taken a place in the book of their life story but when they develop Alzheimer’s, the storybook becomes a combination of some faded writings with a trace of those people, places, and incidents.
People often mistake a healthy aging forgetfulness with the Alzheimer’s Disease. With age, we all forget a few things , a phenomenon which is completely normal. As we grow, our neurons and brain cells lose their potential some of them die normally and we lose the memory or function associated with them. But if the death of the neuron or brain cell occurs because of some biological phenomena (presence of Amyloid Plaque) and it continues progressively then it can be Alzheimer’s or other form of Dementia. If this progressive memory loss occurs all of a sudden then it’s better to visit a neurologist and get it checked clinically, we need to remember ;
“never too early, never too late”.
Alzheimer’s has three stages, Early-Stage Alzheimer’s (Mild), Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s (Moderate), and Late-Stage Alzheimer’s (Severe). If we can bring the person with Alzheimer’s to a clinician and start the treatment before it reaches the severe stage, we can slow down the progression and preserve some of their memories.
They know that can’t remember things, they know that they are not “normal”, they know that they are in pain. So it is our responsibility to let them live in the moment. We often send parents or grandparents to old-age homes and don’t get time to even talk to them even for 5 minutes a day. We miss sharing the moments with those who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
So , today onwards, try spending some time with the elderly people, and take care of their and your own physical and mental health. If you find someone living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, then take 10 more minutes from your schedule and spend time with them. We can’t give them a cure, we can’t return the lost memory but we can “gift them a moment to live”.
I hope one day, we can make this world free from Alzheimer’s and Dementia!
Alzheimer’s Disease Annual Report: https://www.alzint.org/what-we-do/research/world-alzheimer-report/
Picture Source: Alzheimer’s Disease International
1. ADI - World Alzheimer’s Month. Link: https://www.alzint.org/get-involved/world-alzheimers-month/
2. Alzheimer Society. The history behind Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Link: https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-alzheimers-disease/history-behind-alzheimers-disease
3. Dementia. www.who.int. Retrieved September 21, 2023. Link: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia/
4. National Institute on Aging. (2019, May 22). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. National Institute on Aging. Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
5. World Alzheimer’s Day 21 September | Theme, History & Importance. (2022, September 18). Link: www.pacehospital.com. https://www.pacehospital.com/world-alzheimers-day
6. World Alzheimer’s Day is September 21, 2023 | alz.org. (2023). Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Link: https://www.alz.org/about/awareness-initiatives/world-alzheimers-day
7. Yang, H. D., Kim, D. H., Lee, S. B., & Young, L. D. (2016). History of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia and Neurocognitive Disorders, 15(4), 115. Link: https://doi.org/10.12779/dnd.2016.15.4.115
Write-up and Graphic Designing by Arijit Bhattacharya
Edited by Sohini Dey
Copyright The Musical Brains