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Understanding Alzheimer’s: A Guide to Compassionate Care

Prevalence of dementia among the elderly population in J&K is the highest in the country at 11 percent against the national average of 7. 4 percent
12:00 AM Apr 10, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
understanding alzheimer’s  a guide to compassionate care
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) presents itself as a formidable challenge, impacting millions globally and deeply affecting the lives of those diagnosed and their loved ones. As a progressive neurocognitive disorder, it gradually diminishes memory, cognition, and the ability to perform daily tasks, significantly reducing one’s quality of life.

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Notably, dementia is more prevalent among women and in rural areas. A recent pan-India study conducted in February 2023 sheds light on the prevalence of dementia, particularly high in Jammu & Kashmir compared to other regions, the prevalence of dementia among the elderly population in J&K is the highest in the country at 11 percent against the national average of 7. 4 percent. Emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue nationwide.

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Research attributes stress, dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, loneliness, family history, socioeconomic status, and genetics as primary factors contributing to dementia in Kashmir.
Understanding the Causes:

Age: Increasing age is the primary known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s not an inevitable part of aging, the likelihood of developing AD increases with age.The likelihood of developing the condition increases with advancing age, with the majority of cases occurring in individuals over 65.

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Family History and Genetics:

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A family history of Alzheimer’s, especially among first-degree relatives, elevates the risk. The complex interplay of genetic factors in familial cases remains largely unexplained.
Lifestyle Factors:

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Poor sleep patterns, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poorly controlled type 2 diabetes are all associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Navigating the Journey:

The journey through Alzheimer’s is marked by distressing symptoms, including memory lapses, difficulty with communication, and challenges in daily tasks. Caregivers play a pivotal role in providing support and assistance, despite the absence of a cure. Strategies such as tailored activities, effective communication, and maintaining structure can enhance the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Supporting Loved Ones:

Tailored Activities: Planning activities based on the individual’s abilities and interests helps maintain cognitive function and promotes a sense of purpose.

Effective Communication: Patience and understanding are key when communicating with individuals with Alzheimer’s.Effective communication is like a special language we use to understand each other. When someone has Alzheimer’s, talking might become tricky, but there are other ways to connect. A smile, a hug, or just being there can say more than words sometimes. So, let’s find new ways to show we care, even when words are hard to find.

Advocacy and Research: Raising awareness, advocating for improved support services, and advancing research and treatment are essential in alleviating the burden of Alzheimer’s and improving the lives of those affected.

While Alzheimer’s disease poses significant challenges, the dedication of caregivers and the relentless efforts of researchers and healthcare professionals offer hope.

By fostering awareness, advocating for better support systems, and continuing to pursue advancements in treatment and care, we can strive to mitigate the impact of Alzheimer’s and provide meaningful support to those affected by this devastating condition.

By Mehvish Shakeel and Hena Mehraj are students of Clinical Psychology.

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