Have you heard this name somewhere before? Does this name vaguely ring a bell in your mind? We are sure that you must have heard this name sometime, somewhere, and in some connection.
About Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible and progressive neurological disorder that causes death of the brain cells that are connected to memory and thinking skills. Gradually, people affected by this disease lose the ability to do even the simplest of tasks. It can also be termed as a neurodegenerative type of dementia. This type of dementia that is found in Alzheimer's results in the slow degeneration and dying of the brain cells. Eventually, this leads to a steady decline in the person's memory and other mental functions.
Dementia could be described as the loss of cognitive functioning of thinking, remembering, and reasoning. The loss of these abilities greatly hinders the person's day-to-day activities and affects normal life so much that he or she has to totally depend on others. In most of the people,Alzheimer's symptoms usually appearafter the age of 60.
Causes of Alzheimer's disease
As in other types of dementia, Alzheimer's disease is caused by the death of brain cells. It is a neurodegenerative disease that indicates that it is a progressive disease and the death of brain cells takes place over a period of time. In the initial stages, memory loss is quite mild but in later stages, as the disease worsens the patient does not have the ability to make any conversation and respond to surroundings.
Studies indicate that people with Alzheimer's disease live an average of 8 years after the symptoms are seen, but survival varies from about 5 to 20 years.
Ageing is a factor that affects all parts of the body, and the brain is no exception. In normal people, the results of ageing can be seen in the form of slowing down of thinking and difficulty in remembering a few things. However, if there is a serious memory loss it is an indication of the brain cells failing, you should consult the doctor immediately.
One of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's noticed is difficulty in remembering new information - new names, new places, or things. As the disease progresses it shows severe symptoms of disorientation, mood swings, behavioral changes, confusion about names, dates, time, places, and also having suspicion of family members, friends, and caregivers. Further progression of the disease may lead to difficulty in swallowing, walking, and speaking.
People with the disease may find it difficult to recognize or believe that they have a problem. But, these signs may be quite obvious to family and friends.
One of the earliest symptoms is trouble recalling something that you had just learnt. You may also find it difficult to remember other things, places, or recall names.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Remembering where you put your every-day things
- Lose all sense of direction
- Experience difficulty with simple tasks like paying bills
- Difficulty in planning or taking decisions
- Difficulty in coming up with the right words
If you or any member of your family experience these symptoms it is extremely important to consult a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and intervention methods have improved tremendously and better treatment options are available to improve quality of life.
At present Alzheimer's disease has no cure, though research in this direction is still going on. But, treatment for symptoms is available and offers some relief to patients suffering from this malaise. The medicines presently available cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing but they can definitely slow down the deterioration of dementia symptoms. It also promises to improve their quality of life and also offer respite to their caregivers
One of the main reasons for early diagnosis is it will enable people to take urgent action to prepare for the onset of the worsening symptoms and make suitable plans.
Alzheimer's disease calls for some drastic changes in their lifestyle to ensure a smooth transition to the new life. This changeover is inevitable and so, you should be prepared for it.
To make your life easier and to avoid complications, try these few tips:
- Always have a small notebook or note pad with you to write down names, numbers, and your address and your residence phone number.
- Make to-do lists and reminder slips.
- Label cupboards, wardrobes, and table drawers with names or pictures of contents.
- Ask someone to remind you of meals times, medicines, and appointments.
- It is important to join a support group where you can learn how others are coping with the problem and learn from them.