I lost my nan to an aggressive form of Alzheimer’s. This was in 1998, but even today, almost 20 years on, I can still remember everything in vivid detail, from the moments when we cried with despair that there was nothing we could do, and laughed out loud because it was the only thing to do. Alzheimer’s takes away the person you love, even if they are still there in body, and despite the fact that it affects so many people – 1 in 14 people over 65, 1 in 6 people over the age of 80, it is still a disease that we seem to know so little about, or talk about in any sort of real detail.
NRS Healthcare, a provider of disability and living aids are currently in the middle of a really worthwhile social campaign designed to bring more awareness to all aspects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They are supporting World Alzheimer’s month by sharing one interesting fact about the disease every day throughout September through their Twitter account at @NRSHealthcare. There are facts about factors that can increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s, as well as suggesting things that could help those who have developed the disease.
I applaud this campaign whole- heartedly. When my nan faced the disease, the stress and pressure on the immediate family were immense, especially in the days when we were struggling to get used to the diagnosis. It is hard to have to break the news to your mother that your father has died, an horrific groundhog day where they grieve over and over. My nan had vivid memories of her childhood and youth, knocking on doors of houses where she had lived as a girl inquiring about her sisters and parents. Yet she couldn’t remember to pay the bills, or what had happened the day before, and eventually people were forgotten too, lost in some fog in the mind that mercilessly takes away all the things that make a person so special. Think of those houses destroyed during the blitz, a facade left standing with nothing behind it. That is Alzheimers.
We need campaigns like NRS Healthcare’s, and days like National Alzheimer’s day (21st September) to raise the awareness of what people live with on a day to day basis, and how their loved ones are suffering, often in silence, as they try to shoulder a burden.