Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia, a mental disorder. It was discovered as an ailment in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, hence the name.
Alzheimer’s disease is often diagnosed in patients who are 65 years old and above. Although it may occur earlier, the obvious signs might only come out in the elderly stage. Being imminent in the old age, Alzheimer’s disease was earlier thought to be age-related. Research has proven, however, that there is more to the disease than being caused by just the numbers that adds up after each and every birthday.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE SYMPTOMS
Alzheimer’s disease may occur in a person untraced. The most common symptom is memory loss, which can be mistaken for any other thing. As such, it can develop unrecognized. When it becomes full-blown or reached its full-term development, that’s the only time that the other symptoms occur. Mood swings, confusion, inability to communicate, and aggression are just some of the symptoms that may be imminent as the disease advances.
But Alzheimer’s disease is more than just that. It can lead to death for an indeterminate period of time after diagnosis. That’s because, the disease not only causes disturbances in one’s cognitive and behavioral abilities but also progressive loss of bodily functions.
As mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s disease has this one visible symptom from the early stage and beyond – memory loss. For a lot of people, this naturally comes with old age. That’s why it is quite easy to dismiss the idea of a disease taking shape. However, as the disease progresses, several other symptoms become visible, which will make the people around the patient suspect something else. Unfortunately, when this happens, the disease is already on a more advanced stage.
Alzheimer’s disease’s course of action was divided into four stages. Predementia, early dementia, moderate dementia, and advanced dementia are separated by different characteristics.
Patients who are on the predementia stage often show the inability to remember facts or events, even when they were just recently acquired. Memory loss in Alzheimer’s case is more than just forgetting something. It is about the patient’s difficulty in processing information in his mind. Abstract thinking and attentiveness are also damaged during this stage.
Image: Alzheimers Disease
Early dementia is characterized by more life-altering symptoms such as apraxia, which pertains to a person’s execution of movements. Normally, patients in this stage can adequately perform regular tasks but only with lesser precision, making them appear clumsy.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE DIAGNOSIS
In the case of moderate dementia, AD patients are prevented from doing things independently. They may require supervision when performing the simplest of tasks. That’s because moderate dementia shows signs of complex motor disturbances. The bodily movements become less coordinated as Alzheimer’s progresses. Language problems also become more imminent. AD patients find it hard to communicate because they often forget their vocabulary, substituting incorrect words to construct an idea.
At the fourth and last stage, advanced dementia, AD patients need the supervision of a caregiver 24/7. Loss of verbal abilities, long-term memory loss, aggressiveness, exhaustion, and mobility troubles cause them not to make anything possible. They would not be able to perform even the simplest of tasks without help. It is at this stage that the patient becomes bedridden and is held down with a disturbance of another disease, usually pneumonia. Death inevitably comes next.
Alzheimer’s disease is not bound by types but by the stages mentioned above, which are characterized by the severity of one’s symptoms. For the most part, AD occurs the same way with every patient. Then again, since the cause and advancement of the disease is not yet discovered, one cannot really tell as to when a patient gets to another stage. The progression is almost always different with every person who has the disease.
When Dr. Alzheimer was finally able to describe this form of dementia, he accounted plaques and tangles in the brain as the most possible triggers. Plaques and tangles are two abnormal structures in the brain that are said to kill and damage nerve cells, allowing for AD symptoms to occur. That theory, however, remains to be unstable as more research is needed to conclude as to what roles the plaques and tangles actually play in Alzheimer’s.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE PREVENTION
Currently, no cure has been found for Alzheimer’s disease. There is no medication available that can prevent it from happening or stop it from developing to the advanced stage. The treatments supplied are only intended for symptomatic benefits. They are used to reduce the discomfort but not really delay the symptoms from happening.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE TREATMENT
Treatments for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are combined with proper care to make a better quality of life for the patients as they go through the stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease can be disturbing not just for the patients but for the people around him as well. Unfortunately, the medicine world is yet to develop a possible cure that would completely free away a patient from the symptoms of the disease. The efforts to discover preventive medicines as well as treatments that can delay the onset of the symptoms are also being poured. The efforts, however, are not yet that successful.
For the moment, healthcare professionals can only advice caregivers to create a happier and a better quality of life for AD patients. To make them feel comfortable, to make them feel loved, and to be of service to them are just some of the things that caregivers can do to make that happen.
As mentioned earlier, there is no absolute cure for Alzheimer’s as no preventive medications are also established. Old age is a definite risk factor that may put anyone through this ordeal. Alzheimer’s disease has been found to happen more likely in people between the age of 65 and 85. There was also seen an increased frequency of the disease in women than in men. But age alone cannot explain why. Further studies are currently being conducted to get to the bottom of this disease and hopefully, to develop more potent cure to liberate the elderly from the discomforts that the disease brings.
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