Alzheimer’s disease, commonly considered as the disease of the older and aged population is a form of brain disorder. This disease gravely affects the ability of the individual to carry out his / her daily activities. Statistics have revealed an alarming figure –as high as 496,000 individuals from United Kingdom fall prey to this deadly disorder. It was also reported that about 26.6 million individuals across the globe are affected by Alzheimer’s. Statisticians have pointed towards the fact that, if preventive measures are not taken then by the year 2050, about 1 in every 85 people would fall prey to this disease. Research has also shown that the chances of developing this disease condition increase if there is a history of this disease in the family.
Alzheimer’s disease was first recognized in the year 1906 by psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer. Needless to mention, this disease has been named after this renowned personality. Alzheimer’s disease is basically a “progressive disease”. This means that the onset of this disorder actually happens at a young age, but it begins to show effect with age, when a person gets older. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that slowly and gradually affects the memory of the individual and also affects their behavior pattern. Individuals with this disorder often find it difficult to recognize known faces and stumble in finding the right words. The brain cells responsible for transmission of messages are damaged which results in loss of memory and also hampers one’s ability to carry out daily functions.
It requires special mention that, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have certain brain chemicals missing. This and many other factors predispose an individual to be affected with this deadly disease condition. The symptoms of this disease can worsen over time if timely initiation of treatment is not done. One must also understand that this disease cannot be treated, but the symptoms can be effectively managed with proper and timely treatment.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease slowly progress over several years. Common signs and symptoms of this brain disorder include the following:
- Forgetfulness and disorientation
- Experiencing difficulty in performing out daily activities and tasks
- Problems in speech
- Mood swings
- Disturbance in sleep pattern
- Urinary and or fecal incontinence
- Weight loss
- Loss in appetite
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Increase in susceptibility to infection
- Loss of short term memory as well as long term memory
- Loss of self-consciousness
- Have a suspicious feeling about others
- Loss of interest in socializing
- Habit of wandering
- Living in one’s own world of delusions
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder and therefore the symptoms primarily show an effect on changes in the memory pattern. As the disease progresses, the individuals tend to forget recent conversations and names of family members and friends. Changes in one’s personality and behavior are yet another aspect that is gravely affected by the disease. Patients experience a great deal of difficulty in carrying out their daily tasks such as drinking, eating, bathing and dressing.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease manifest in 3 different stages. Patients in the third stage of the disease, fail to appropriately take care of their personal hygiene and end up contracting various infections.
However, it also requires mention that the medications and drugs prescribed for these patients can also further worsen their existing symptoms. It is therefore required that the doctor prescribe only those medications that do not have any adverse side effects.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease:
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is yet to be figured out. Research studies are being carried out round the clock to dig out the causative factors. However, scientists have postulated certain factors that can lead an individual to develop this disease condition. It has to be clearly understood that Alzheimer’s disease is the disease of the brain and therefore there should be certain factors that play foul with the functioning of the brain. Thus, in view of this fact, scientists have found that the interplay of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors can predispose an individual to develop this cognitive disorder. It has also been postulated that genetic factors have only 5% chance of making an individual fall prey to Alzheimer’s disease.
Research done by scientists has also revealed that, in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the brain cells undergo significant atrophy and as a result of which the brain gradually shrinks in size. As the disease progresses, more and more brain cells die giving rise to grave irreversible changes. As the causative factors are not clearly understood, one must understand that there are several risk factors that can increase the chances of development of this disease in certain individuals. The risk factors include:
- Age of the individual greater than 65 years
- Family history of Alzheimer’s disease
- Down’s syndrome is a significant risk factor for this disease. It has been observed that individuals with Down’s syndrome are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer disease.
- Vascular disease
- Whiplash and head injuries also significantly increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease:
Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured; the symptoms can be effectively managed with a good treatment regime. An appropriate blend of medications, changes in lifestyle factors and care is necessary to delay the development of cognitive changes. The various medications that are given to patients with Alzheimer’s disease include the following:
These medications are prescribed depending on the severity of the condition. However, one needs to understand that the medicines should not be taken without doctor’s advice. It addition, one must also realize that patients with Alzheimer’s require love and affection of caregivers. This will enable them to cope with the symptoms with much more ease.
Regular exercising is also an important part of the treatment regime. A 30 minute walk every day can promote good sleep and also aid in better control over mood swings which is usually experienced by the patients. Exercise also helps in promoting better joint health and also strengthens bones and muscles.
Lastly, it requires to be mentioned that Alzheimer’s disease like any other disease condition needs to be treated with utmost care. With proper care and treatment individuals can easily live the journey of life with Alzheimer’s. Living with this disease condition can be very difficult, but certainly it is not impossible.