Dementia affects a person’s ability to severe his day to day activities, it affects the thinking, memory, judgment, language and the behavior of a person. One of the most common types of disease is Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is most commonly diagnosed in the age group of 65 and above, the onset of the disease in much earlier stages is known as the younger onset (up to five percentage) and it appears within the age group of individuals in their 40’s and 50’s. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease develop very slowly and worsen with time. More than fifty to eighty percent of the cases related to dementia are due to the Alzheimer’s disease. People often have much difficulty in identifying the early symptoms of this disease, since it is often misinterpreted as the signs of aging. In United States of America, Alzheimer’s disease has been identified as one of the major causes of death. By 2050, it is also predicted that 1 in 85 people will be affected by this Alzheimer’s disease. The development of this disease varies from one individual to another but there will be several common symptoms between the patients. Currently there is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments which help in improving the symptoms of the disease.
How Alzheimer’s disease affects the Brain?
The disease creates a type of disorder in which the plaques or protein deposits gets collected in the patient’s brain, this in turn causes the degeneration of the connection between the brain cells which eventually leads into the death of these cells. Tangles are formed in the brain due to this process; it is a substance which is left behind as a result of the above process. The gradual degeneration and death of the brain cells causes the steady decline in the mental function and other memory capabilities or cognitive skills of the patient and they will gradually lose their independence in performing their own activities. Patients can be helped by their doctors to manage the condition, but the disease itself cannot be cured.
Some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are listed below, patients with some or most of the symptoms should seek immediate medical attention for a thorough evaluation of their condition.
- Memory Loss – One of the most common effects of aging is memory loss, but when they are noticed at a really alarming rate then the individual have to seek medical help immediately. The type of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease may affect even the most common routines of an individual. Patients may show the following symptoms:
- Forgetting the names of the family members or forgetting on how to cook, how to drive, the way to their home. They forget how to do their regular activities which they had done with absolute ease in the past.
- Repeating the stories again and again or asking the same question several times.
- Completely forgetting the conversations, important events and dates or getting lost in a familiar place, lacking the ability to retrace their steps.
- Language – People with the disease will have difficulty in identifying the names of the day to day objects, choosing the right words for a conversation, difficulty in spelling words etc. The ability to write and read things gradually decreases over time.
- Misinterpretation and Disorientation – People with the disease may have difficulty in understanding their surrounding environment since the disease will affect the ability to interpret things. This may result in being lost in familiar locations. Patients may lose their sense of day, timings their present living conditions.
- Decision Making and judging things- Responding to unexpected situations in their day to day life such as making judgments during driving, reacting to the burning food will become increasingly difficult.
- Reasoning, Thinking and Problem Solving abilities – People with disease will have difficulty in solving simple problems, ability to concentrate, inability to understand abstract concepts such as numbers etc.
- Carrying out daily tasks and Making Plans – As the disease worsens people may forget to take bath, wear the same dress again and again. They may even forget the basic rules of their favorite games and other activities.
- Changes in Personality and Behavior –Alzheimer’s disease causes severe mood swings to the patients such as depression, anxiety, general distrust, withdrawal from social activities, aggression, irritation, getting upset over petty issues, delusions, changes in sleeping habits and aimless wandering.
There are certain drugs which help in reducing the intensity of the symptoms. Two types of drugs Memantine and Cholinesterase inhibitors are now available which helps in treating the cognitive changes and the symptoms related to memory.
- Namenda (Memantine) – This drug helps in slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease with moderate to severe stages. The drug this by working in the communication network of the brain cells, the drug is also used along with the Cholinesterase inhibitors.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors – The drug increases the levels of the chemical which helps in cell-to-cell communication, since this chemical would have been depleted as a result of the Alzheimer’s disease. The most commonly prescribed inhibitors list includes Exelon (rivastigmine), Razadyne (galantamine), and Aricept (donepezil). The symptoms will be at bay for a certain period of time for some of the patients.
Some of the other things which can be done are to create an environment that is safe and supportive for the patients to move around, this can be done by removing the extra furniture’s and installing rails for them to move around. The Wellness plan for the affected individuals should include regular exercise along with proper nutrition.
As of now there are no proven methods of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, but some of the evidences suggest that people can prevent Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing the risk of heart related diseases. Some of the important factors that might be involved in contributing to the disease include high blood cholesterol, diabetes, excess weight and high blood pressure. The other things which can be done to prevent Alzheimer’s disease include training your memory and stimulation, nutritious and healthy diet, physical activity and social engagement. Keeping oneself occupied socially, mentally and physically helps in decreasing the chances of developing this disease.