The Alzheimer’s treatment unit in Blida, the only one of its kind in Algeria, plays an important role in the psychomedical care of patients and their families, teaching them to live with the disease and, above all, to avoid complications.
“Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects older people and requires treatment from the first symptoms to avoid complications,” said the head of this unit, Pr. Souhila Amalou, in an interview with the APS on the eve of the World Alzheimer’s celebrations Day (September 21).
The Alzheimer’s treatment unit of the CHU Franz-Fanon, commissioned in 2017, is called upon by many patients and their families from different wilayas of the country, looking for a treatment to slow down the progression of this disease, but above all, to learn to live with it, in the face of the associated upheavals in the lives of the affected family, she added.
Based on her many years of experience in this field, the neurologist found that the age of people with Alzheimer’s, mostly women (average of two cases in women versus one case in men), ranges from 65 to 85 years. Knowing that the complications of the disease affect men more than women.
“While the recovery of people with Alzheimer’s is almost impossible, at least scientifically, since it is a disease that affects the nerve cells of the brain, which are also affected by aging, the fact remains that the therapeutic protocol adopted by this entity does not likely to prevent their condition from getting worse while helping them adjust to their new way of life, especially when the disease is treated in its infancy,” added Prof Amalou.
Prof. Amalou explained the treatment protocol for this disease, drawn up by a medical staff specialized in psychology and psychiatry, pointing out that it is based on a medical treatment that includes the prescription of antidepressants and anxiolytics, among others.
This treatment method, the effectiveness of which has been proven according to the testimonies of the patients’ relatives, also consists in dividing the patients into groups to practice different activities (gardening, sewing) and to stimulate their memory, including chess games and puzzles, to avoid complications due to the feeling to avoid the emptiness and boredom of the patient.
The directors of this department also have a special interest in accompanying the patients’ relatives in order to help them adapt to their new situation, organizing regular meetings with the department’s psychologists for their benefit.
-Increase in cases received by the unit
Prof Amalou mentioned an increase in patients admitted to the Alzheimer’s treatment unit, an average of 20 new cases/month, compared to 10 to 13 cases when the center opened.
She explained this increase by an awareness of citizens who are more and more convinced of the importance of treating the disease from the beginning to avoid its rapid progression.
She also noted that the majority of patients are unaware that they are affected by this disease, except for a small number whose level of education allows them to assimilate this disease.
At the ward level, about fifteen patients are cared for every day. A number that is called upon to increase if it is reinforced by sufficient human and material resources to care for all patients, especially since the duration of a treatment session is 45 to 50 minutes, explained Manager.
On site, the son of a seventy-year-old patient from the Tipasa wilaya “confirmed the marked improvement in his father’s condition after a year of benefiting from the department’s therapeutic protocol”. He also praised the good treatment given by the medical staff, who encouraged his father to be more accepting of his treatment.
Nevertheless, Prof. Amalou noted that the coronavirus pandemic has hampered the completion of equipping this structure with the necessary equipment, especially the functional rehabilitation room, which many patients urgently need.
It is also recommended that anyone over the age of 65 who observes unusual symptoms or behavior in their parents or relatives, including but not limited to loss of the ability to verbally express a thought, forgetting of recent events, difficulty performing usual activities, in addition to nervous behavior and unjustified irritability, consult a specialist or this department as soon as possible.
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