21 September: Alzheimer’s Day

By Zintle Tsheme

With age, comes difficulties, whether it is hypertension, high blood pressure, but today, we honour, and acknowledge the existence of Alzheimer’s disease, which is celebrated every year on September 21.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys one’s memory and causes Dementia. This is likely to happen around the age of 85 and above. When it occurs, the brain cell connections and the cells themselves unfortunately degenerate and die, this leads to hallucinations and loss of appetite, memory loss, confusion and other mental complications.  
When a person has Alzheimer’s disease, they find difficulty in thinking, there is confusion, delusion, disorientation, they make things up, inability to concentrate. With these cognitive changes, comes behavioural changes, this means the person becomes agitated, aggressive at times, they struggle to take care of themselves, meaningless repetition of words, wondering which has led to people with this disease being lost, because of lack of safety measures. 
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, therefore Doctors can only treat or tone down the symptoms. So cognition enhancing medication is given to the patient, and physical exercise is required. It is important to know that treating and taking care of the symptoms brings ease and comfort for both the patient and the caregiver.
Support groups and centres are available to help people with Alzheimer’s disease, to teach people on how to handle people with this disease, what it is and what to look out for and the perfect diet is.
Days ago, elderly people were moving out of their homes, sleeping in groups in the Eastern Cape, as they feared being violated, abused, because they are believed or accused of witchcraft. This is due to the change in behaviour, the disorientation, talking things that don’t make sense as mentioned. 
Such days like today are important, as they bring awareness and educate, they let people know when people have a change in behaviour, it’s part of life, a part of growing up we’re probably to go through. Talking about these mental diseases highlights the importance of life, and that people with the disease are human too, treat them as human beings.

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