Chennai: Leela Prabakaran, 81, of Kolathur was sure she was suffering from dementia after she got lost in the Guruvayur temple in 2009. Her family remained unsure of the same until 2014 when she started growing violent and it was confirmed that she has Alzheimer’s.
“My mother tends to get confused with the date and time. She also forgets where she resides and has many a time been found desperately searching for something. It really frightened us when she packed her bags and was getting ready to go meet her ‘late’mother and sister whom she believed were still alive,” said her daughter Jayashree. P.
Recent reports say that around 42 million people worldwide and 4.4 million people in India have Dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common type. It also states that the statistics continue to rise drastically every year.
On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day, doctors create awareness on the disease and its symptoms. “There is no exact statistical record in the state, but the prevalence of the disease is expected to be around two to three per cent. The most significant aspect is that those affected tend to forget only things of the recent past, while holding on to memories of long ago. They even forget what they had for breakfast that day. A drastic change can only be seen if dementia-care homes are set up and awareness is created,” says Dr Sathianathan, Psychiatrist, Madras Memory Clinic.
Recalling a case he had come across, the doctor said, “Jayakumar (74), an ex-public sector employee, seemed to think every place he visited was Tambaram – where he worked. As a result, he had to be rescued by a helicopter team in New Zealand when he began to look for ‘Tambaram’ and got lost in the attempt. Not only does he forget where he lives, but he also forgets how to bathe or eat, a common factor among Dementia patients.”
“Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, which usually hits those between the ages of 60 and 65. The first recognizable symptom is memory loss. The symptoms often get worse over time as it is a progressive disease. Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the impact could be minimized through increased awareness,” said Dr. Dinesh Nayak, Senior Consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist, Fortis Malar Hospital.