A thought for those with no memory

World Alzheimers Day today

There are thousands like Eunice, who live in isolation towards the end of their lives. There is no cure, only care for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. There are an estimated 32 million people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer's related problems in India, with than 32,000 reported in Bangalore alone. However, the unofficial figures are more than this. Due to lack of awareness about the disease, many families end up terming their elders' problems as 'madness'.

To help people with such conditions, Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Bangalore Chapter was established in 2006.  Promoted by Nightingales Medical Trust (NMT), an NGO that for the wellbeing of the elderly including Alzheimer and dementia patients.

"The reason people forget is due to lack of memory cells in the brain. If people keep themselves engaged in mental activities like solving crossword puzzles, chess, writing letters, learning and reading new languages throughout their life, memory cells will be active till the end. However, in spite of all these measures, it cannot be ruled out that these people may not develop dementia or Alzheimer's related problems," said Dr Radha S Murthy, Managing Trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust.

"Alzheimer's is an age related illness. It is associated with memory disturbances, which is progressive and there is a decline in the person's memory condition by the end of a year," says Dr R Srinivasa, senior consultant Neurologist and chief, Department of Neurosciences at M S Ramaiah Memorial Hospital.

Treatment
Patients are given cognitive drugs and medicines to improve their memory along with anti-inflammatory medicines.  This may retard the progression of the disease. "Not only is there no cure, there are no drugs that will halt the progression of the disease, even if it is diagnosed at an early stage," said Dr Srinivasa. One of the biggest problems is the lack of awareness about the disease, he said.

Awareness drive
To create awareness about this disease, the Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Bangalore Chapter, will World Alzheimer's Day, which falls on September 21, with a memory walk from Lalbagh gate till Sandhya Kirana near Richmond Circle. At the end of the walk, three caregivers will pledge brains of patients they are looking after to Brain Bank facility in NIMHANS for research purposes.

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