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Ons Tuis promotes awareness of Alzheimer’s disease during November

Around 50 million people across the world live with Alzheimer’s disease. More than half of these cases live in countries where health care is found lacking – mostly developing countries – and the prediction is that it will rise to more than 70% by 2050. In countries with proper medical interventions where lifestyle can minimise the risk factors, the disease has deteriorated.

The Ons Tuis organisation with eight homes under its wing offers accommodation for older and impaired persons, and two of the homes specialise in the care of persons with Alzheimer’s and other senile dementias.

“It is imperative to be aware of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, to manage it better,” says Matron Wesson of the Ons Tuis Organisation. “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia which leads to problems with memory, thoughts and behaviour. It is the most common type of dementia and is responsible for between 60 and 80 per cent of all cases of dementia.

“Alzheimer’s disease gradually becomes worse and finally gets to a point where someone can no longer manage typical daily tasks. In the beginning memory loss is only a small part of the disease, but as the disease progresses, patients are less aware of their surroundings, and they cannot hold conversations any longer.”

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Memory loss;
  • Difficulty in planning or solving problems;
  • Confusion of time and places;
  • Losing items and not remembering how and where they lost it; and
  • Change in personality and temper.

“There is no medicine or treatment to cure a person of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are some treatments which can slow down the progression of the disease,” says Matron Wesson. “There are also things loved ones and caregivers can do to support someone with Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages of the disease.”

How to support someone with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Stick to a daily routine to prevent confusion;
  • Don’t overstimulate and keep thing simple;
  • Try to make the person feel safe and comfortable; and
  • Don’t yell or argue out of frustration.

“Though it is possible to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient in the early stages of the disease, it becomes difficult to sustain,” explains Matron Wesson. “Alzheimer’s patients are often a danger to themselves because they forget basic safety guidelines. When the disease reaches this phase, it is time to consider a care facility which can manage and monitor the patient’s needs.”

Hannelie Fourie