When Memories Disappear

How to care for yourself and others against Alzhemier’s.

Imagine waking up one day and your mind is just blank. It’s a frightening and increasingly common experience. Recent statistics claim that Alzheimer’s disease now affects more than 40 million people worldwide.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes damage to the areas of the brain responsible for memory, thinking skills and language. It is the most common type of dementia.

But, this disease is a lot more than just simple memory loss. It also affects your mood and emotions. You could have sudden mood swings, suffer from anxiety and stress or even experience depression. Your behavior would change too, causing you to become more aggressive and hostile. Such changes can be very challenging and difficult to handle for both the patient and their caregivers and loved ones, which could lead to stress, tension or even a breakdown in communication and care.

Therefore, it’s important for a caregiver to understand their patient’s behavior, what causes their mood changes and be able to adapt to it and compromise. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can be extremely hard but we have to stay strong for our loved ones.

Atheer Alkhashram is one of our talented local graphic designers here in Sharqiya. Her senior project at Dammam University focused on educating the caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. She created a kit that includes a guidebook with information and tips on home-care and methods to help the caregiver, a stress-relief ball and a planner to help arrange schedules between caregivers. She also created an app where they can record their best memories and which also has a planner and a series of educational clips.

Abdulrahman Sundakji

Abdulrahman Sundakji

Earlier this year, Saudi filmmaker Abdulrahman Sundakji directed a film about Alzheimer’s, showcasing the reality of the disease and heartbreaking cases of it in the Kingdom. The film won the bronze aware at the 2016 Saudi Film Festival, and during the film’s tour in Dhahran last May, the Saudi Alzheimer’s Association recognized Atheer’s efforts with her app and guidebook.

Alzheimer’s disease was first discovered by German psychiatrist Dr. Alois Alzheimer in the early 1900s. A century later, researchers have yet to find an actual cure. Still, recent studies have shown that changing your everyday lifestyle choices could reduce your risk factors. This includes:

  • Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in vegetables, beans, leafy greens, nuts and omega-3 foods.
  • Doing regular aerobic exercises that reduce your stress levels and body fat, while also promoting better sleep. Even a daily walk routine will help.
  • Doing regular mental exercises, such as crossword puzzles, stimulating games, reading books and learning new skills or languages. Anything to keep your brain active and engaged.

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