We often come across people forgetting name of a person, a book, or a word and trying to remember the same. Sometimes they also forget where they left their glasses or keys. Many people get worried that these are early signs of Alzheimer’s, but it’s not correct.
It often happens in people of 60 and above and they start thinking and complaining that they lack memory. But if anyone is aware of his own memory problems, he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s.
According to French Professor, Bruno Dubois, French Professor at the Institute for Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease (IMMA) of La Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, this is nothing but temporary forgetfulness and he calls it “Anosognosia”, that in Greek means “to not know a disease.”
Half of senior citizens have one or other symptoms that are due to age, with passage of years. It’s not a disease. After 60 years most people have such a difficulty and experience lack of insight or awareness. It’s common, nothing to worry.
“The information is always in the brain, it’s the “processor” lacks at times.”
Those who are conscious of being forgetful have no serious problem of memory, while the patients of Alzheimer’s are not at all aware of what is happening.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions, while anosognosia is a condition when brain fails to recognise health conditions that one has.
Professor Bruno Dubois, Director of IMMA, reassures the majority of people concerned about their oversights and confirms that the more one complains about memory loss, the less likely he or she is to suffer from memory sickness.
But there is a word of caution. As it impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness, it shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Apart from dementia, anosognosia is also caused due to stroke or traumatic head injury.
Besides some common method to explore explicit anosognosia, there is a 15-minute simple pen and paper SAGE (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam) test to identify mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The questions in the test include finding an odd letter or number in the table of many similar looking letters or numbers, or drawing a picture by adding given numbers etc.
If a person passes these tests without any difficulty, his or her brain is in perfect shape irrespective of age, and need not bother about Alzheimer’s.
But those who fail, need our care, empathy, sympathy and above all, a listening ear.