All You Need To Know About Alzheimer’s Disease Is Here

Overview | Stages | Symptoms | Causes | Complications and risk factors | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention| Facts

Many of us must heard the term ‘Alzheimer’s disease’, but how many of us know about it?

Let’s discover the world of Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

An elderly woman sits and looking out the window.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is a neurodegenerative disease, which occurs due to the death of brain cells or neurons. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of dementia, that affects memory, thinking, and behaviour. It’s symptoms starts slowly but gets progressively worse with time. Alzheimer’s disease is generally refers as Alzheimer’s. About 60 – 80 % cases of dementia are of Alzheimer’s only. People suffering from dementia experience forgetfulness or difficulty in remembering recent events. As it’s progress, the symptoms gets so worsen that patients can’t even recognize his/her loved ones. It is to be clear that there is no permanent cure or treatment of Alzheimer’s, which can cure this disease completely. But yes, treatment can slow down the affects and progression of this disease.

Stages of dementia:  There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease —

  • Stage 1 – There are no noticeable symptoms at this stage, but one can be diagnoses if he or she has any family history of Alzheimer’s.
  • Stage 2 – There is a beginning of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. TThe earliest symptom one can notice is forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3 – In this stage, mild physical and mental impairment occurs. Any person very close to the patient may notice these symptoms.
  • Stage 4 – Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed at this stage, because of the noticeable effects on the patient. In this stage, the patient suffers mild memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks.
  • Stage 5 – In this stage, a patient needs the help of his or her family’s assistance to perform everyday tasks. Moderate to severe symptoms can be observed.
  • Stage 6 –  When patients is unable to perform basic tasks such as eating, getting ready etc. Then we can consider the patient at the sixth stage of Alzheimer’s.
  • Stage 7 – Loss of speech and facial expressions, feeling unable to recognise his/ her family members are the symptoms of final stage, with many other severe symptoms.

As the stages progress, patients needs more attention and support of their family, friends and caregivers.  

Early Alzheimer’s onset:

Generally, Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed in individuals over 65 years of age. But about 5 % cases of Alzheimer’s are found in people having  40 – 60 years of age. This condition of people getting affected at 40 to 60 age is called early Alzheimer’s onset or younger Alzheimer’s onset. It’s symptoms are mild memory loss, difficulty in performing everyday tasks, poor concentration and even sometimes mild poor vision, etc.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s: Generally, these symptoms progress over months it years, but if the symptoms progresses over hours, then the patient need medical assistance immediately; as it indicates stroke.

  • Severe memory loss
  • Language problems
  • Disorientation
  • Apathy
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of motivation
  • Wandering without in being sense and any reason
  • Self neglect
  • Behavioural problems
  • Depression
  • Problem in recognising family members even
  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty in speaking, reading, swallowing food etc.
  • Troubles with families tasks
  • Distrust in others
  • Difficulty in problem solving
  • Decreased judgement
  • Personality changes.
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Low personal hygiene
  • Loss of inhibitors
  • Getting lost
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Losing objects
  • Reduced understanding of safety and risks
  • Difficulty in handling tasks which includes money, decision making and several stages.
  • Repeating questions and conversations etc. Again and again
  • Delusions, such as patient may believe that something is stolen or taken away from them
  • Being lost, even in familiar places
  • Unable to express feeling and emotions. Etc.

Causes of Alzheimer’s:  The cause of most of the Alzheimer’s cases are still unknown. When the brain proteins fails to work normally, it disrupts the working of brain cells called neurons. This condition triggers a series of toxic events and damage the brain cells. Damaged neurons lose connections to each others and die at last.

Only 1 – 3 % cases have some known or familiar causes like —

  • Genetics
  • Osaka mutations
  • Cholinergic hypothesis
  • Family history
  • Age etc.

Although, family history and age do not have much affect on the occurrence of Alzheimer’s. The real cause is still unknown.

Complications or risk factors of Alzheimer’s:

Unavoidable risk factors are:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Family History

Other complications and risk factors are :

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Regular or prolonged exposure to some toxins metals, pesticides, chemicals etc.
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor sleep positions
  • Down syndrome
  • Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
  • Sex: Women generally live longer than men, may be that’s why, the risk of affected by Alzheimer’s is found to be more in women than men.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Air Pollution
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Active or passive smoking

Many of these causes are related to poor lifestyle habits, which can be modified for sure.

Diagnosis: In the process of diagnosis, first of all, your doctor will ask you about your family history and other factors like your medical condition, symptoms etc. Since, there is no definitive test to diagnose Alzheimer’s accurately, but mental test can be done to know the severity of your dementia.

Some test that can be done to analyze Alzheimer’s are —

  1. Medical imaging
  2. Computed tomography (CT) scan
  3. Magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI)
  4. Single – photon emission CT scan
  5. Positron emission CT scan
  6. Radio pharmaceutical agents

Treatment of Alzheimer’s:

 On the basis of your diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe you medications, which need to be eat up on time.

Apart from it, lifestyle changes will help you and your family to manage your condition. Some things to remember are:

  1. Limit confusion
  2. Get enough rest every day
  3. Stay calm
  4. Focus on tasks
  5. Avoid confrontations

You can ask your doctor about some other alternative treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Prevention tips:  As there are no fool – proof treatment, there are no fool – proof prevention as well. But by keeping and accepting a healthy lifestyle, one can at least reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s.

  • Go for cognitive training exercises
  • Consume more antioxidants
  • Be active mentally and physically as well.
  • Maintain an active social lifestyle
  • Consume plant-based diet
  • Quit smoking and alcohol as soon as possible
  • Keep your blood sugar and cholesterol level under control
  • Take a nutrients rich diet
  • Engage in activities like puzzle solving, reading, writing, creative art, dancing etc.
  • If you are the caretaker of the patient, make sure to treat them well, give medications on time, and NEVER leave them alone.

Fact: Alzheimer’s affects around 5 million people in the US. Estimates suggest that this number will be nearly triple by 2060.

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