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Caribbean

Published on January 17th, 2016 | by TandT Newsday Newspapers

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Dr Jit forgot pan notes

When Jit Samaroo began to forget the notes of the tunes he arranged for BP Renegades, a steelband he had led to nine National Panorama victories, the players and members of his family became deeply concerned. Samaroo was always sharp and precise in his work, a man revered for his musical intellect and meticulousness with the national instrument. To see him appear somewhat confused and unsure of himself was almost too much for them to bear.  Initially, they had chalked up his memory lapses to fatigue, stress and the trials arrangers usually encounter during the hectic Carnival season. But then the memory loss became more apparent with Samaroo himself frequently questioning the notes he had taught his charges.

“There was a sense with the players that something just was not right,” Samaroo’s son, Amrit, told Sunday Newsday, last week.  Amrit said although initial medical tests pointed in the direction of Alzheimer’s Disease, doctors doubted the findings.  They said he was too young to have that (Alzheimer’s Disease) and that he was using his brain all the time. You know there is a saying that if you don’t use it, you lose it. That was the shocking part for us,” said Amrit.  “But because of his involvement in music we were lucky to have picked it up early and so we were able to get the best care.” Samaroo was just 65 when he died at his Mausica, D’Abadie, home on January 7 but had started showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease close to a decade before.  His death has shed new light on the horrors of the debilitating illness for victims as well as caregivers.  For neuropsychologist, Dr Natija Khan, Samaroo’s diagnosis, at a relatively young age, was not at all unusual or uncommon.

In fact, she told Sunday Newsday during an interview last Thursday that while Alzheimer’s Disease has been seen historically as a condition which affected the elderly, increasingly younger persons were developing the disease.  “While Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is most commonly thought of as a disease of the elderly (persons over 65 years), younger persons in their 40s and 50s can also have Alzheimer’s disease; this is referred to as early-onset AD,” Khan said.  However, she pointed out that Alzheimer’s Disease was not easily detectable in younger persons and can initially be passed off as stress or fatigue.

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