The first sign is forgetfulness

As the world marks Alzheimer’s Month, Oman Observer features Voices of Alzheimer’s Caregivers in coordination with Oman Alzheimer’s Society. This edition we feature the voice of Thubayta al Busaidy, who is also a member of Oman Alzheimer’s Society.

My personal experience began when my mother seemed to forget where she had kept her things. We did notice this forgetfulness.  All of us in the family assumed that it simply due to old age senility.  Subsequently and gradually, she started forgetting where she was (physical location), could not recognize the people around her, often repeating questions that we had already answered.At this stage, we realized that this was not simply a matter of senility. We then took her to various doctors for consultations. The initial diagnosis was “Alzheimer’s Dementia”. The disease changed her personality completely; we didn’t know what to do or how to handle her and ourselves. It was and still is hard watching her decline. I would spend the whole day watching her walking from one room to another not knowing what she wanted, and she didn’t want people to do things for her because, throughout her life, she was someone who was highly organized both on her personal as well as professional life.My mother had been a trained teacher (after completing her Secondary School education); she became Headmistress and finally an Inspector. Her personal life was a life of refinement in her duties to her family, society, soft-spoken, articulate, forgiving, and always finding the good in others, seldom criticizing people; instead often invoking Allah to guide that individual.It is extremely hard for me to write these words by referring to her in the past tense because she is still physically alive. However, in reality, she is really not there anymore. It was important to me to share my experiences with others that they may learn (and I also) about the emotional upheaval resulting from having a close family member afflicted by Alzheimer’s. Therefore I started to look for people here in Oman with the same problem like mine or who went through such experiences in the past. We contacted each other and met, initially once every fortnight then once a month. We were just a group of caregivers and healthcare professionals each one of us had a family member with Alzheimer’s or worked with patients who had it. We formed the Alzheimer’s Support Group, where one of our major objectives was giving each other support. Now I am very proud yet humble.