Do you know anyone with Alzheimers Disease?

Alzheimers Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and is reported to have 35 million suffers worldwide.

This degenerative illness was first described by a German psychiatrist, Alois Alzheimer in 1906.

Early signs of Alzheimers Disease are often mistakenly thought to be age related, concerns like forgetfulness or memory loss. When this becomes a problem and affects the daily living of the patient, investigations are undertaken. Cognitive tests and brain scans are some of the diagnostic tools used in making a diagnosis. As this disease advances, symptoms include confusion, irritability and sometimes aggression. Some patients can manifest symptoms which are totally out of character from their previous personality.

Alzheimers Disease is an incurable degenerative disease and individual prognosis is difficult to assess.

Many of us living here in Spain, do so for a healthier lifestyle. The climate is better and the outdoor lifestyle, we hope prolongs our live and helps with ailments like arthritis and respiratory problems. We may be equipped for the odd minor accident or cold or flu, but have we ever thought what we would do if face with AD. Do we have a contingency plan? Would this make us run back to “Old Blighty” or stay in Spain?

We are all aging much faster than we would like to and in Ex-Pat areas of Spain we live in an aging community. We all joke and laugh with each other as we get older. Out come the ageist jokes about memory loss and forgetfulness. Indeed we may even worry about ourselves, but have we ever really thought about how our lives would change if a relative or spouse was diagnosed with this debilitating illness?

This illness not only has a profound impact on the life of the person diagnosed with it, but also on the family.

Because AD sufferers cannot be cured and it is degenerative, the management of the patient is often taken on by a spouse or relative. This places a great burden on their lives. The pressures are enormous and involve social and psychological aspects of their lives.

Around the area we live we have charities for animals, which are worthy and successful. We also have MABS, which is such a worthwhile charity, and one which I support. We sadly all know someone who has suffered with Cancer, or maybe even have lost someone close to us.

How many of us know someone in the area who suffers with Alzheimers Disease?

I know a lady who looks after her husband. He suffers from Alzheimers Disease and she lovingly looks after him. She is a strong level-headed woman with a wonderful compassion for her husband and a great sense of humour. She single handed looks after him, but would like a network of friends who are also looking after a relative; perhaps a group of people who can support each other in times of anxiety, stress or loneliness.

If you are one of these people looking after a relative with AD, contact me at 660 360 491 or I can pass on your messages to my friend and hopefully form some lasting friendships.

If you know someone who suffers from this illness please show them this article; they may not have seen it. You may just introduce them to a new friend and make a difference to their life.

Bridget Hall