There is, perhaps, something harder to suffer alzheimer: Be aware of your own disease. it happens to Montse Torroella, 60 years old. The doctors gave a name to what had been happening to this woman for a long time three years ago, shortly before the covid-19 pandemic. Montse has early Alzheimer’s, What is Alzheimer’s that people suffer before the age of 65? She was diagnosed at 57, with three children of which one was not even, in 2020, of legal age. Studies suggest that One in every thousand inhabitants between the ages of 45 and 65 suffers from early Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s before the age of 65 represents between 5% and 10% of all Alzheimer’s cases.
Montse had been forgetting things for a long time, she did not see “well”, she lost objects; Her own co-workers (she was a social worker at the Barcelona City Council) realized that something was happening.
“My world fell apart, but I couldn’t stay at home, I have three children and life goes on”
But despite this diagnosis changed his life this woman He has not lost his good character or the desire to do things. “At first my world fell on. But I couldn’t stay at home I have three children [Miquel de 20, Anna de 27 y Mariona de 29 años] And life goes on. They They helped me move forward: I alone, I wouldn’t be here”, says Montse from the Day Hospital of the Fundació Ace Alzheimer Center of Barcelona, where every day he does cognitive stimulation activities and is part of a clinical trial. “In addition -he adds-, Alzheimer’s it’s no shame. I won’t see it myself, but I’m sure this will eventually work itself out. Wanna let it be investigated more so no one else goes through this.”
montse separated from her husband after receiving the diagnosis. Her own children encouraged her to do so because the relationship had “not worked” for a long time. “That was very valiant because sometimes illness slows steps like this”, he tells Montse America Morera, Foundation educator.
“If you have a family that loves you, it’s different, and I’m lucky. And here in the hospital they are my saviors, I always get hooked on some activity”, explains Montse, who does not hide her real concern. “Sometimes I have… [silencio] Because they [los hijos] they carry me It should be the other way around. When my children have to live their life, residence and period”, convinced sentence.
Montse is very aware, and she explains it with a sorrow that does not make her lose her smile, that the early alzheimer has converted his three children in their twenties in their primary caregivers.
“It’s hard, yes. But already we hadn’t known what he had for years. He behaved strangely, it was difficult for him to tie the shoe. When diagnosed, we understood much more”, comment Anna Escoda, Montse’s 27-year-old daughter. The arrival at the final diagnosis was long. For example, like Montse looked bad, they told him he had cataracts and, although it was true, that was not his main problem. Montse saw (and continues to see) badly because she suffers visual agnosia: People with early Alzheimer’s have the problem that, despite the fact that their eyes see well, the information they receive It is not processed by the brain. “The field of vision is altered,” says the Morera pedagogue.
Both Anna and the older sister go to psychological therapy. Between Anna and her brother Miquel (both live with Montse, the older one is independent) they organize to prepare it in the morning and take her to the foundation, which she goes to every day. The return home is done by Montse alone. She does it on her own but little by little, since, as she suffers from visual agnosia, sometimes you don’t see what the traffic light indicates. “I have come to wait for three or four stoplights until be sure that I could cross”, assures Montse.
“She is aware of her illness: There is the problem. He realizes that he is losing”, says Anna. The children do not rule out, in the future, hire a person to help out at home when Montse needs it. “I can’t imagine the situation any other way. This [la enfermedad de la madre] it’s already normal. I don’t like the situation, but in general I’m fine and between the three brothers we support each other”, Add.
“I was lost on the street”
Carmen Montero, 63 years old, is another of the patients with early alzheimer of the Day Hospital of the Fundació Ace Alzheimer Center. it was diagnosed about five years ago, in my fifties. “I got lost on the street, I couldn’t find things,” says Carme. Before the disease worked for 40 years at Renault, as director’s secretary. “She had a lovely boss,” explains Carme, who only has kind words to all the people he talks about.
In his own way, he is happy. “I can’t do more, that’s what it is. At least I don’t have pain.” Her son Ricard, her husband Frederic and her sister take care of her. “You make everything very easy, Carme, because You have a very good character” the pedagogue points next to her. Carme likes, above all, the dance activities What does he do in the day hospital?
“I can’t do more, that’s what it is. At least I don’t have pain”
As the coordinator of this day hospital and neuropsychologist explains, Anna Gailhajanet, The main objective of the center is “improve or maintain cognitive performance” of users through cognitive stimulation techniques and exercises. Users perform a comprehensive program of activities ranging from the cognitive stimulation session, as the main axis of work, combined with workshops on psychomotricity, crafts, physiotherapy, music therapy and activities with ‘tablets’, among other. “We also work on impact of the diagnosis, he accompaniment to families. there is a whole grieving process to accept the disease. In some cases, the patient does not understand that he is sick”, says Gailhajanet.
In a disease like Alzheimer’s, the memory loss is he first warning sign, For this reason, it is advisable to consult with the family doctor to perform a first examination of symptoms. “Neuropsychologists are the professionals who, through clinical interviews and test administration, discern whether there are altered cognitive functions such as orientation, the memory or the language, among others”, he says. He also warns that stress can lead to memory loss without it being Alzheimer’s.
Along with memory loss there must be other symptoms, such as temporary disorientation (not knowing what day, month or season of the year it is). Then the spatial disorientation (for example, getting lost in the street). Gailhajanet is clear that the most important at the time of receiving the diagnosis is “to have an environment family and social welcoming and understanding, as well as keep the day to day activities that I can continue doing”, he responds. All this is the great luck (and also him personal success) of women like Montse and Carme.
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