Maurice, 79, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. His wife, Bernadette takes care of him on a daily basis. On this world day for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, she has agreed to testify and recalls how important it is to be accompanied by specialized associations.
These are small signs that alerted. “He was forgetting. He was going shopping and he was forgetting things. He was going to pick up my granddaughter from high school and took the wrong turn. They were warning signs, but I was in denial“, recalls Bernadette.
She and her husband Maurice are both 79 years old. Married for almost sixty years, they live in a pretty house in Lons, in Béarn. Four years ago, Maurice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “We were thrown like that, it’s up to us to deal with it!”, remembers Bernadette.
Not always easy to “deal with”, especially since over the years, the disease evolves. Today, Maurice is easily confused. “You always have to follow him. We lock up, we make sure he doesn’t come out… You have to take care of him all the time“.
This help and this permanent attention, it is Bernadette who takes care of it. A binding mission, 24 hours a day. “I have a lot of support from my family, wanna relativize this mother of two children and grandmother of three grandchildren. I don’t have any outside help at the moment.
The couple goes three times a week to the France Alzheimer association. “It brings us a lot, both to me and to my husband. They are all great with us, the professionals as well as the volunteers“, reports Bernadette.
Activities, sophrology, exchanges… so many moments that allow you to get out of everyday life. Maurice and Bernadette are also fortunate to be very surrounded by their family and friends. “It’s very valuable, and it helps“, assures the septuagenarian.
“It is a very hard disease to live with. It affects the abilities but also the behavior of the person. A very well-behaved lady may, for example, start swearing, explains Christiane Mariette, president of the France Alzheimer association in the Pyrénées Atlantiques. In families, we have a lot of trouble. It is extremely painful. Sometimes it’s shame, and denial. We have to fight against it“,
Caregivers need to be made to understand what the disease is. That the patient no longer has any bearings, and that if sometimes he gets angry, that’s normal.Christiane Mariette, president of the France Alzheimer association in the Pyrénées Atlantiques.
France 3 Pau South Aquitaine
Nearly 30,000 patients in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques
In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is estimated between 25,000 and 30,000.”If we consider that there are two caregivers per sick person, this makes between 50,000 and 60,000 caregivers in the department“, underlines the president of the association France Alzheimer in the Pyrénées Atlantiques.
So many people directly confronted with difficult situations, with meager hopes. “Research seeks, but it doesn’t find. At the moment, we haven’t yet found a medicine capable of curing it.” This leaves non-drug treatments, with activities to maintain the remaining capacities of patients. And Christiane Mariette recalls the importance of including all patients in society, in particular by becoming a “helping community”.
“For example, communities must train their agents to be patient when someone hesitates, the municipal police must be made aware, perhaps traders as well.“. Today, about twenty municipalities in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques are thus labeled “helping cities”.