My own personal experience of dementia began when my mother seemed to forget where she had put her things. Initially, we as a family assumed that this was simply a normal part of ageing, but gradually she started forgetting where she was and could not recognize the people around her, often repeating questions that we had already answered.
It was at this stage we realized that this was not a normal part of ageing, so we took her to various doctors for consultations, and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia changed her personality completely, and we didn’t know what to do or how best to support her. It was and still is hard witnessing her decline. I would spend the whole day watching her walk from one room to another, not knowing what she wanted.
She didn’t want people to do things for her because throughout her life, she was someone who was highly organized both in her personal and professional life. She trained as a teacher, becoming a Headmistress and ﬁnally an Inspector. Her personal life was one of reﬁnement in her duties to her family and society. She was softly spoken, articulate, forgiving, and always ﬁnding 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 alive. However, it really feels like the same person is not there any more. I feel it’s important for me to share my experiences with others so that they may learn (and I also) about the emotional upheaval resulting from having a close family member living with Alzheimer’s disease.
I started to look for people here in Oman who have also been through the same experience. We initially met once every fortnight, then once a month. We were just a group of carers and healthcare professionals, but each one of us had a family member living with Alzheimer’s or worked with people who did. We formed the Alzheimer’s Support Group, with one our major objectives being to provide support to each other. Now I am very proud and humbled that we have established the Oman Alzheimer’s Society.
By AlSayyida. Tubayta Al Busaidi – Deputy Chairperson, Oman Alzheimer’s Society
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