12:00 AM, May 21, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 21, 2017
Forgetting little things in old age
Dr Syed Faheem Shams
We all will grow old one day. Numbers of older people are increasing day by day throughout the world. As the age progresses, we forget things. We make mistakes now and then. Our partner or children get angry time to time, we get irritated and frustrated trying hard to memorise everything. So, is it normal? Are we going to end up like we do not know anything and cannot recognise anyone?
As we grow old, our brain volume also decreases in size. So the memory areas in brain can shrink and we may forget few things which we used to remember quite well before. It can be normal as long as we are functioning well or can perform our regular activities as before. But this forgetfulness can become very bad and it may be a great strain for the family members. We call it dementia.
The most common symptom is forgetfulness. It can start slowly or can be very prominent from the beginning. There are many causes of dementia such as it can happen due to brain stroke or can be slowly progressive Alzheimer’s disease. At first, one may have trouble remembering small things, like what they did yesterday. They may get lost or confused easily. Eventually, they may forget how to do everyday things like cooking meals, getting dressed or using the toilet. They may not recognise even close family members. It may have an effect on mood. We can become agitated or moody, pace about, or wander off. They may have trouble talking or understanding you. Some people imagine that things are happening to them (false beliefs known as delusions) or see things that are not really there (visual hallucinations).
It is very unfortunate that still there is no cure for it. There are medicines that can help a little with forgetfulness and behavioural problems. These are the drugs that can halt the progression of memory deterioration. But they may not work for everyone. Drug treatments are a part of the care that people with dementia and their families need. People with dementia will eventually need a lot of help looking after themselves. It is very difficult to see someone you love changing gradually after living so many years all together. So beside the medicines we need to take few measures such as:
* We can try putting labels on things, or making sure things are always put away in the same place.
* If they are saying something wrong or have delusions or hallucinations, there is no point in trying to persuade them that the things they are telling are wrong or not real. It is better to gently distract or reassure them than arguing.
* Doing day to day activities can help a lot along with watching TVs and reading newspapers.
* Working with old memories such as photographs, instruments, story books or movies can help.
* People with dementia feel very uncomfortable when their surrounding environment and people are unfamiliar. So it is better to maintain a familial environment.
There are so many things that we can do to help people suffering from dementia and at the same time we need to take care of ourselves as we may become fatigued by taking care of them continuously. (Courtesy)
The writer is an Assistant Professor and Head of Department of Uttara Adhunik Medical College.
Dr Syed Faheem Shams