September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day, an international annual campaign that aspires to raise awareness about the disease and eliminate the stigma surrounding it. September 2018 marks the 7th World Alzheimer’s Month since the movement started. According to Alzheimer’s disease international, 2 out of 3 people believe that there is little to no understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in their countries.
As it stands, there is a severe lack of content on the disease in Egypt. In my search for Alzheimer’s in Egypt, I came across an article by Egyptian Streets from 3 years ago about living with Alzheimer’s in Egypt. The article, written by Dalia El Daba, highlights the grief that Alzheimer’s patients in Egypt go through due to the misconceptions carried around by both their loved ones and their professional caretakers. She had started an initiative to document the struggles that Alzheimer’s patients go through as part of her campaign to raise awareness on the disease. She emphasizes how this lack of understanding can lead to behavior that can worsen the patient’s condition, despite the best of intentions. At the end of her article, Dalia El Daba called for the urgent importance of taking the time to educate the masses on the real struggles of the diseases.
It is only through understanding and education that we can take the necessary steps to improve the quality of life of sufferers. – Dalia El Daba, VIa Egyptian Streets
So, I started to go a little deeper. I managed to come across one group on Facebook for families living with the disease and an active page that posts Arabic, educational content that is focused on raising awareness about the disease and the experience of patients. However, the overwhelming sentiment I got while doing this research is that all available content/resources in Arabic is fragmented and difficult to reach.
According to Al Masry Al Yom, there are 47 Million Alzheimer’s patients worldwide, a number that is expected to triple by 2050. As of last year, there were 300,000 Alzheimer’s patients in Egypt alone. The numbers speak of a pressing need to expand the dialogue on the disease, break down the stigma surrounding it and start educating ourselves and those around us on recognizing it and living with it.
We invite you to take this first step with us by reading these three key facts you need to know about Alzheimer’s disease:
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that affects memory and several other mental functions. Dementia, on the other hand, is the collective term for the malfunctions of key cognitive abilities that interfere with day-to-day living. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia, thus all those suffering from Alzheimer’s are Dementia patients, but not all that have Dementia are suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer has long been labeled as an age-related disease, as it’s common to develop memory problems with age. However, the condition can affect younger people too. In fact, 5% of Alzheimer’s patients are below the age of 65, with some showing symptoms as young as 30 years old. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is not common, which is why its diagnosis may take longer than usual. This is why it is important to take a proactive approach and seek medical advice if you start suspecting that you or a loved one are exhibiting symptoms.
- Memory loss that affects your ability to conduct your daily life
- Inability to plan your day or carry out simple problem-solving
- Difficulty completing routine tasks – such as getting to work, budgeting your money or doing basic household chores
- Losing track of time, not knowing the time of day, month or year
- Trouble with analyzing visual input – This will take the form of vision impairment that can make activities like driving difficult
- Trouble in carrying out a conversation, remembering a word, a sentence or an expression
- Frequently getting lost and misplacing things
- Decreased judgement or ability to make sound decisions
- Withdrawal from work, social life, and favorite activities – patients often lose the ability to remember how to actually practice their favorite hobby
- Significant changes in mood or personality that are noticeable by those around you and get in the way of you getting things done
While occasionally exhibiting one or two of the above symptoms may seem common or normalized, it is important to pay attention if you or someone you know starts developing these signs. Taking a proactive approach and keeping an eye out on what your body is trying to tell you is crucial.
This is not the end of the conversation. In order to really cause a positive impact on the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s, we need to look into our own community and invite people to tell their stories. If you know someone who is living with Alzheimer’s or has a family member who is, we would like to get in touch with them. Please reach out to us via the comments below or through our Facebook page.