26 March 2011

Alzheimer's Blogging Competition

This is an Alzheimer's Blogging Competition entry.

Thank to Sally Jenkins I've learnt about The Disabled Shop blogging competition. There is an entry fee, but as long as it is at least £1 or $1 it's up to you how much to give. There are many fabulous prizes to win, from one year membership of Aweber, or one year's membership of Survey Monkey or e-commerce, to a blogging job for The Disabled Shop, to name only a few. Obviously, it's an opportunity to promote your blog, but most of all since all profits will go to Alzheimer's Research UK, you help defeating the illness at the same time. All you need to do it donate money, write your post, email the organisers and promote it.
For more details and web addresses for donations and post promotion see The Disabled Shop Blog.

I'm taking part in this competition, because Alzheimer's Disease plays an important role in the novel I've written recently. The main female character - Ann, is a neuropsychologist who is passionate about early detection of AD, because her beloved father who died of Alzheimer's would have lived longer and with a better quality of life if his condition had been detected and treated earlier.
Early detection of AD is one of the most important aspects of treatment. This is because all treatments available now have more chance of making a difference at early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for AD so far, and currently available medication can only slow down the progress of the illness, and alleviate the symptoms. Not much, we may think, but for many sufferers and carers this may mean a difference between being able to lead a still pretty a independent life and having to rely on others in many everyday matters.
Alzheimer's Disease is often divided into three stages:
  • Early stage (1 to 2 years leading up to and including the diagnosis) - where the person has problems with mild forgetfulness or poor judgement, difficulty learning new things, following conversations or handling money; it's also the stage where problems with mood, orientation, restlessness or passiveness may occur 
  • Second stage (2 to 10 years after diagnosis) - this is when the person starts to forget details form their own personal history, becomes repetitive, has problems recognising family and friends, struggles to remember date, time or name of the place; this is also a stage with more severe personality changes, confusion, suspiciousness, anxiety, depression, or even hostility and aggression; sleep becomes disrupted, there are often fluctuations in appetite and problems with challenging behaviour; as the person's cognitive ability declines, she/he may require full time supervision and assistance with everyday tasks like getting dressed or undressed, personal hygiene etc.
  • Late stage (1 to 3 years) is the saddest stage - the sufferer becomes unable to remember, communicate, or look after themselves, they also can't control bowel and bladder movements, have difficulty eating and swallowing, often are immobile and bed-ridden. This stage inevitable leads to the sufferer's death, often as a result of secondary complications, like blood clotting, pneumonia or other infections.
One of the secondary characters in my novel, Mrs Peabody, is one of the lucky ones - her memory problems are detected early. She is beginning to have more problems with day-to-day tasks and gets lost on her way to a familiar place a couple of times, but a change in her medication, a good routine , adaptations in her home environment as well as some extra supports put in place enable her to return to her own home and enjoy a fairly independent life for some time.

More about three stages of Alzheimer's Disease here; more about treatment here.

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