MUSCAT: The Sultanate observed World Alzheimer’s Day yesterday organised by the Memory Clinic of Sultan Qaboos University Hospital along with Oman Alzheimer’s Society of Oman with the Third National Symposium. The event marks the conclusion of a month-long health education activity that focused on Alzheimer’s and other cases of dementia. The programmes included the campaigns conducted in five wilayats of the country namely Khasab, Suhar, Sur, Nizwa and Salalah held at shopping malls with the participation of healthcare professionals.
The National Symposium had a mixture of educational topics and entertainment. Dr Hamad al Sinawi, Senior Consultant, introduced the theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Day — ‘Every three seconds somebody develops Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia worldwide’. Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed al Harrasi presented a paper on symptoms of Alzheimer’s and how the healthcare professionals and families can detect signs at early stages.
The presentations were followed with a play by Al Massarra Theatre Group depicting a life of a family with one of its members having symptoms of Alzheimer’s and their pathway of receiving support from healthcare professionals.
On the occasion, the Observer launched a short documentary to support the awareness campaign of the Oman Alzheimer’s Society for the World Alzheimer’s Day, ‘Memory is not forever’, which reflects on Alzheimer’s from family members’ point of view. Fatma Nuzhath joined by Dr Mona al Marhoobi shared their views in the documentary where they recommended that although the patients might forget who they are as well as people around them it is important to give the individual quality life.
A mother who nurtured and cared, who shared laughter with her daughter, began to ask her — “Who are you?” “What do you want?” Why have you come to my house?” Fatma cared for her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s for 15 years. And although later she forgot the basic skills such as walking and chewing food, her family made sure she enjoyed outings.
“Initially my mother would forget to switch off the stove in the kitchen and forget why she entered a room. When the incidents became more, we went for a scan and the doctor explained the changes in the brain. I think it was a big shock to her as well as to me. As a patient, she would not know what changes are coming to her so she was at loss.
“Sometimes it would make her aggressive without her realising. After so many years, today I realise that she was trying to hide that fact she is losing her memory and was not able to manage many things. I began to take the responsibility for her and she became my baby,” explains Fatma Nuzhath.
“We may not be able to bring their memory back, but we can definitely make their life better with the right care and love. Initially when I tried to give her a hug she would reject me. But with time she began to respond with a smile. We enjoyed taking her out because we wanted our grandmother to be with us to enjoy the moment,” said Dr Nada al Marhoobi. In the documentary, Dr Al Sinawi explains that when Alzheimer’s begins, it hits a part of the brain that makes memories, and as time passes, the disease becomes worse and the person becomes more and more forgetful.
The short documentary, Memory is not forever,’ can be viewed on @omanobserver social media and www.omanobserver.om.