Understanding Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease and an irreversible brain condition. Experiencing the loss of memory and confusion are the two most typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease progresses slowly and negatively impacts our memory and thinking processes, in a way that even the simplest tasks of daily life as tough and unfeasible. This disorder can eventually make a person so unresponsive that they are not even able to communicate. Amongst the elder population, Alzheimer’s is the most familiar source of dementia. According to Alzheimer's Association proposes that 60-80% of dementia is the result of Alzheimer's disease. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the fifth leading cause of death for adults above the age of 65 is Alzheimer's disease.
Signs & Symptoms:
As this disease is progressive in nature, memory loss becomes a markedly prominent factor for it. There are other symptoms that indicate profound memory concerns, like being confused, changes in personality and behavior, being disoriented, having trouble doing multi-step tasks, alterations in mood, trouble in speaking, issues in remembering (time, date, or events), difficulties in sleeping, questioning repeatedly, difficulty in recognizing loved ones, and concerns in walking.
There are three stages that represent the pattern of progression of Alzheimer's disease, which is as follows:
- Early Stage: In this phase of Alzheimer's, the symptoms are mild and the individual is able to live and function independently. Although their life carries on, they may have some issues in remembering normal daily things. For example, trouble in planning & organizing; keeping appointments; misplacing or losing things; trouble in remembering recent learned matter or conversations; difficulty in choosing right words to describe things; and others.
- Middle Stage: In this phase of Alzheimer's, the symptoms advance from mild to moderate. This is generally the longest phase, and it is in this stage that long-term memories start getting impacted. In this stage, the individual starts depending on another person for proper functioning. For example, concerns in doing tasks related to self-care; experience more memory loss and confusion; judging poorly; exhibiting suspicion & delusions, etc.
- Last Stage: In this phase of Alzheimer's, the symptoms advance from moderate to severe in a way that the physical functioning of the person has severely deteriorated. The mental functioning also declines and impacts the physical condition. The person requires constant assistance and care. For example, trouble or unable to walk, hold their head or sit without help; loss in awareness of their surroundings; the inability in controlling bowel or bladder functions; unable or trouble in swallowing, etc.
Causes & Risk Factors:
The specific changes in the brain (such as an abnormal build-up of special kinds of protein) is characterized as the cause of Alzheimer's disease. Many believe and suggest that an amalgamation of factors such as environmental, genetic, lifestyle, or age-related issues can result in Alzheimer's disease, as the cause of alterations in the brain is not entirely known. The various risk factors that can help in understanding the development of Alzheimer's disease are like brain abnormalities, age-related concerns, mental activity, being overweight, health situations, history in family, gender, and lifestyle concerns.
Alzheimer's disease is divided into two types. This division is based on the age at which the symptoms of Alzheimer's are detected or appear.
Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease: In this type of Alzheimer's, the symptoms may occur during the ‘30s, 40's, or ‘50s of the individuals. Although this disease is normally associated with older age, it is less known during these years. The cause of this type of Alzheimer's is not much known but it might be due to an uncommon gene inheritance according to doctors.
Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease: In this type of Alzheimer's the symptoms come up when the person is 65 years or more, which is much more common. The reason for this type of Alzheimer's is known to be related to lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors.
Treatment & Coping:
There isn't a way to heal Alzheimer's disease completely, but there is various pharmacological treatments measure that can slow the development of Alzheimer's which can help the individual. These medicinal processes aid the individual and their loved ones in managing the condition. According to the current developments, these medications help in delaying clinical deterioration, enhance cognitive symptoms, and advance behavioral symptoms.
It can be clearly understood how stressful and difficult being diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be, not just for the individual but also for the family and/or friends around them. The major treatment is given through medication but there are other behavioral strategies and lifestyles that can help them to cope with Alzheimer's in a better way. Such as, being more focused on the task that is to be completed, removing distractions, recalling or reminding yourself the tasks to be done, maintaining and keeping a safe environment to live, locking doors each time so that no one wonders, and eliminating the reach for sharp objects, doing things that are meaningful for the person so that they are calm, composed and not frustrated or anxious about the hurdles that will come along with the development of Alzheimer's disease.