Alzheimers : A very serious disease that impacts many774
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative condition that progressively destroys brain cells and causes brain shrinkage. Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent cause of dementia, which is characterized by a steady deterioration in mental, behavioural, and social abilities and impairs a person's capacity for independent functioning.
Symptoms include not remembering experiences and conversations that have happened recently. Alzheimer's disease patients can start to have very strong memory loss. They then lose the ability to complete basic tasks as it worsens.
With medicine, symptoms can improve and develop at a slower pace. These therapies occasionally enable persons with Alzheimer's disease to preserve their independence and optimise function. There are a number of support groups and information guides to support Alzheimer's Disease patients and their families.
Currently, scientists have not produced a medication to stop Alzheimer's disease progression.
At a severe stage of the disease, patients can lose function in the brain which leads to symptoms such as hunger, dehydration and in extreme cases, death.
It is unclear what causes Alzheimer's disease exactly. In the initial stages, proteins in the brain get damaged. This prevents the brain cells from functioning properly which leads to further damage. These damaged signal cells lose key connections and then the cell dies.
Scientific Research has found that this disease can be caused by genetic and health-related factors. These health-related factors are diet and exercise. A person's external environment can also have a negative influence on the brain such as physical abuse and psychological issues.
Less than 1% of the time, Alzheimer's is brought on by certain genetic abnormalities that almost always result in a person getting the illness. The illness typically begins in middle age as a result of these uncommon events.
What specifically causes Alzheimer's disease is unknown. However, brain proteins fundamentally malfunction, interfering with the activity of brain cells (neurons) and starting a series of negative events. Neurons that have been harmed stop communicating with one another and eventually perish.
The memory-controlling area of the brain is where the damage most frequently occurs, although the harm is already happening years before any symptoms appear. Different sections of the brain can have a pattern of neuron loss. The brain has greatly decreased in size by the disease's latter stages.
How to check if you have Alzheimer's Disease?
Memory loss or other dementia symptoms can be caused by a variety of illnesses, some of which are curable. Consult your doctor for a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis if you are worried about your memory or other cognitive abilities.
Talk to a family member or friend about your worries and suggest coming to a doctor's visit together if you are worried about the cognitive abilities you have noticed in them.
The biggest recognised risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is ageing. Alzheimer's is not a natural part of ageing, yet as you become older, your risk of getting the illness rises.
If your parent or sibling has Alzheimer's disease, your chance of having the condition is somewhat increased. The genetic variables are probably complicated, and the majority of the genetic causes of Alzheimer's disease in families are still mostly unknown.
Alzheimer's disease strikes a lot of persons with Down syndrome. The three copies of chromosome 21 and, thus, the three copies of the gene for the protein that produces beta-amyloid are most likely responsible for this. Patients with Down Syndrome are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at an earlier stage in their life.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a deterioration in memory or other thinking abilities that is more pronounced than is typical for an individual's age. The decline starts to interfere with a person's ability to function in their social and working life.
Dementia is far more likely to occur in MCI patients. When memory is the main MCI weakness, dementia brought on by Alzheimer's disease is more likely to develop.
A healthy lifestyle and heart
The risk of Alzheimer's disease has similar factors to the risk factors of heart disease. These consist of:
- Inadequate exercise
- Exposure to secondhand smoke or smoking
- Elevated blood pressure
- High triglycerides in blood sugar
- Type 2 diabetes
A key symptom of Alzheimer's disease is losing your memory. Not remembering the last conversation you had repeatedly could be a possible sign. Memory deficits increase as the disease advances, and new symptoms appear.
A person could start picking up on the fact that they cannot manage their thinking and their memories. It is possible that a friend or family member will notice the symptoms getting worse first.
Changes in the brain due to this disease can cause problems with the following factors:
Everyone occasionally experiences memory loss, but Alzheimer's disease memory loss is persistent and becomes worse, making it difficult to carry out daily tasks at home or at work.
Alzheimer's patients may:
- Repeat sentences and inquiries again.
- Don't recall discussions, appointments, or activities later on.
- Regularly lose belongings and frequently store them in odd places
- Get lost in well-known locations
- Start to forget the names of family members and common things such as keys.
- Find it difficult to understand your thinking and identify objects, and be able to discuss things.
Patients can face issues in focusing and analysing information. They can also have difficulty dealing with numbers.
Working with numbers and financial decisions can become difficult for Alzheimer's disease patients. It can lead to not being able to understand and use numbers anymore.
Making decisions and judgements
Critical thinking and decision-making skills are significantly reduced. People can start to behave in challenging ways publically and not be able to manage chaotic situations such as a small unexpected fire.
Preparing for and carrying out routine duties
As the disease progresses, routine daily tasks such as cooking or playing games can become extremely difficult. After some time, patients with severe Alzheimer's disease lose the ability to dress or wash.
Personality and behaviour changes
Moods and behaviours may be affected by the brain alterations that result from Alzheimer's disease. Issues might involve any of the following:
- Social isolation
- Mood changes
- Suspicion of others
- Easily irritated and hostile
- Alterations in sleeping patterns
- Loss of self-control
- Delusions like thinking something was stolen
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. A few lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer's can be changed. As you take actions to lower your risk of cardiovascular illness, evidence shows that you should also take steps to minimise your chance of dementia-causing conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
These are good lifestyle options that can lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease:
- Doing regular exercise
- Consuming a Mediterranean-style diet, which consists of meals low in saturated fat, healthy oils, and fresh fruit
- Following the recommended course of therapy for high cholesterol, diabetes, and blood hypertension
- If you smoke, ask your doctor for advice on how to stop
Research has shown that engaging in social activities, reading, dancing, playing board games, creating art, learning an instrument, participating in social events, and other activities that call for mental and social engagement are associated with preserved thinking skills later in life and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease presently has no known cure, however, there are medications that can assist with some of the symptoms.
Making improvements to your home environment to make it simpler to move about and recall everyday duties is just one example of the many other types of support that are available to help persons with Alzheimer's live as independently as possible.
Your memory, problem-solving abilities, and language skills may also be supported by psychological treatments like cognitive stimulation therapy.
To temporarily alleviate certain symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a variety of medications may be used.
These medications are:
Inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase (AChe)
Acetylcholine, a chemical that facilitates nerve cell communication in the brain, is produced in greater quantities due to these medications.
Currently, only professionals like psychiatrists or neurologists are permitted to prescribe them.
There is no AChE inhibitor in this medication. It functions by obstructing the effects of too much glutamate, a neurotransmitter found in the brain.
For Alzheimer's disease that is mild to severe, memantine is prescribed. It is appropriate for people who cannot tolerate or cannot use AChE inhibitors.
Medicine for challenging behaviour
Many people suffering from dementia will exhibit behavioural and psychological signs as the disease progresses (BPSD).
These are some examples of BPSD symptoms:
- Heightened agitation
These behavioural changes can be quite upsetting for both the Alzheimer's patient and their caregiver.
Since risperidone has substantial adverse effects, it should only be administered temporarily and at the lowest dose possible. Only in cases where previous therapies have failed should haloperidol be administered.
If depression is thought to be the cause of anxiety, antidepressants may occasionally be prescribed.
For persons with dementia to live effectively, additional therapies, activities, and support — including for the caregiver — are crucial.
Therapy for cognitive stimulation
Participating in group activities and exercises meant to boost memory and problem-solving abilities is a component of cognitive stimulation treatment (CST).
This method entails working with a family member or friend and a skilled expert, such as an occupational therapist, to accomplish a personal objective, such as mastering the use of a mobile phone or other commonplace chores.
Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease
Treatment plans for this medical disease may become more challenging as a result of memory and language loss, poor judgement, and other cognitive impairments brought on by Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's disease patients might not be able to:
- Indicate to others that the person is in agony.
- Describe the signs of different symptoms.
- Follow a recommended course of therapy
- Describe any adverse effects of the medicine.
As Alzheimer's disease advances to its last stages, alterations in the brain start to have an impact on bodily processes like swallowing, balance, and bladder control. These outcomes may make people more susceptible to developing new health issues like:
- Ingesting or drinking anything and inhaling it (aspiration)
- Pneumonia, the flu, and other infections
- Dehydration or undernutrition
- Bloating or diarrhoea
- Dental issues include tooth decay or mouth sores
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Page last reviewed: Mar 3, 2023
Next review due: Mar 3, 2025