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Alzheimer's... A disease that affects the patient and his environment

 World Alzheimer's Day has been established each year, on September 21st, primarily with the aim of raising public awareness of the disease.

Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and is characterized by a progressive impairment of mental (cognitive) functions and in particular affects memory, perception, thinking, language, the ability to criticize and abstract thinking.

Alzheimer's disease usually develops slowly over a long period of time, before the inception of symptoms, with the asymptomatic stage.

During the evolution of the disease, the patient shows inactivity, withdrawal from his interests, depressive symptoms, anxiety, while delusions, stimulating and aggressive behavior are often observed.

But Alzheimer's does not only affect the patient himself ... Alzheimer's is a disease that affects the whole family and the close family environment, as the patient's functionality gradually deteriorates and a change in daily life takes place.

A significant number of research studies (Bell et al. 2001, Connel et al. 2001, Rigaud 2003) ascertains, among other things, that family members of people with Alzheimer's disease are exposed to increased physical and psychological stress.

The social and economic costs of the disease are enormous as the family environment takes care of the patient, who becomes more intense and symptomatic.

It is a disease, of which the consequences are the impairment of the patient's quality of life, as well as the pressure on his family, combined with symptoms of chronic stress, chronic fatigue, sadness, grief and uncertainty about the future.

Alzheimer's is a disease that requires the mobilization of all of us, not just for the care for the patient, but more importantly for supporting the patient’s family with the aim of involving them to understand the disease, manage their grief and stress and learn about strategies and techniques for a day-to-day management.

Eleni Soltaridou Psychologist - mesogeios partner