Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease. It causes brain
cells to waste away and die. A person with Alzheimer’s disease will have severe
memory lost and lose the ability to carry out daily tasks. As the most common
cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is typically seen in older adults.
Right now, scientist still don’t know the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease,
but its symptoms can be managed temporarily by taking medications, making lifestyle
changes, and participating in different programs and services.
It is reported by Alzheimer’s Disease International that nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia worldwide. And more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
The exact causes
to brain changes resulting from Alzheimer’s disease is not fully determined. It
is likely that a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors
affect the brain over time.
who have family members with Alzheimer’s disease are also more prone to develop
it than others. However, the probability of developing the disease due to
genetic changes is very low, only less than one percent of the time. Specific
genes contained with two proteins–plaques and tangles, may increase the risk
of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Metabolic conditions
A 2010 study published in the medical
journal Neurology suggested increase the risk of developing plaques associated
with Alzheimer’s disease.
to statistics,13% of individuals over age 65 have Alzheimer’s or another form
of dementia. As one ages, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s increases.
- Head injury
Sustaining a head injury or concussion are linked
with increased risks.
- Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure increase
the possibilities of developing Alzheimer’s increases.
Unhealthy lifestyles, such as unbalanced diet, lack of exercise and mental activity, smoking, and drinking alcohol, will also lead to Alzheimer’s increases.
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease typically follows a similar pattern of three main stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Lack of energy and motivations to do things
- Lack of interest in work and social activities
- Loss of recent memories
- Language problems
- Mild coordination problems
- Trouble with everyday tasks
- Difficulty learning new information
- Difficulty organizing an activity
- Rambling speech
- A hard time planning or solving problems
- Confusion about time or place.
- Not dressing for the weather
- Anxiety and agitation
- Loss of long-term memory
- Trouble sleeping
- Major confusion about the past and present things
- Can’t express themselves, remember, or process information
- Problems with expressing and processing information
- Problems with carry out daily activities required normal physical functioning
- Weight loss, seizures, skin infections, and other illnesses
- Extreme mood swings
Doctors use a combination of methods to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. They
usually follow these steps:
- Look at the signs and symptoms with cognitive assessment
- Take a medical history
- Perform a physical and neurological exam
- Perform laboratory tests, especially blood tests and urine tests
- Conduct mental status and neuropsychological tests
- Use brain scans, including MRI, CT and PET
- Prescribe effective drugs, vitamins and supplements
There is currently no known cure for
Alzheimer’s disease. But there are medicines that seem to slow down its
progress, helping with mood changes and other behavior problems.
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Sleep medications
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Cholinesterase inhibitors.
- Memantine (Namenda)
- Tacrine (Cognex)
Creating a safe and supportive environment
You can take these steps to support a person’s
sense of well-being and continued ability to function. Examples are given as
- Always keep keys, wallets, mobile phones and other valuables in the same place at home, so they don’t become lost.
- Keep medications in a secure location.
- Arrange for finances to be on automatic payment and automatic deposit.
- Carry a mobile phone with location capability so that a caregiver can track its location.
- Make sure regular appointments are on the same day at the same time.
- Use a calendar or whiteboard in the home to track daily schedules.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease.