World Alzheimer's Day on Sept 21

This year's flurry of educational events held in conjunction with World Alzheimer's Day will take place in over 50 countries and focus on : 'Diagnosing Dementia : See It Sooner'.

Why is early detection important? Because Alzheimer's is incurable, but appropriate care and medical treatment can slow its progression and improve patient quality of life.

The sooner it is detected, the sooner intervention can take place, and the better the outcome for patients, caregivers, and the community at large.

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Stages of Alzheimer

Alzheimer is the most common cause of dementia (the loss of control of conscious mental processes) among older people, but it is not part of the normal ageing process.

In Alzheimer, nerve cells in the brain progressively die. At the same time, the brain produces less of the chemicals that allow nerves to communicate with each other.

As the parts of the brain typically affected first are those that store and retrieve new information, memory is usually affected first. Early stage patients may also experience difficulty in finding the right words and mood swings. Do not dismiss these symptoms as part and parcel of old age!

Later stage patients may suffer deeper lapses of memory and have difficulty understanding what they are told. They may forget daily living skills, undergo personality changes, or appear indifferent to those around them.

Advanced stage patients may become unable to speak, walk, and eat independently. Some lose their sense of time and place, and may wander off with no idea where they are headed or recollection of how they got there. Some lose their inhibitions and sense of propriety, and may undress in public or make inappropriate sexual advances.

Some drugs can slow disease progression and alleviate symptoms like depression, paranoia, insomnia, and hallucinations. But loving care, patience, understanding, and a safe, stable environment are what a patient needs most.

What You Can Do

* Attend a talk to learn more.

* Watch A Cup of Tea, a (very) short film produced by Alzheimer's Disease International at

* Contribute to Alzheimer's care. For example, at the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) two centres, RM30/day pays one person's way, covering meals, daily activities, staff salaries, and maintenance.

Sign the Global Alzheimer’s Disease Charter if you feel all governments should promote awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s; respect the human rights of people with the disease; recognise caregivers; provide patient access to health and social care; stress the importance of optimal treatment after diagnosis; and increase prevention by improving public health.

More info on ALZHEIMER here.

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