Alzheimer's disease has hit the headlines quite a bit recently, in part because well-known and bestselling author Ideal Terry Pratchett OBE has a form of the disease and partly because recent studies have shown that the number of people developing Alzheimer's disease is on the increase. However, many people are still unaware of what Alzheimer's disease is actually what to expect if you or someone close to you is diagnosed with it, and how to spot the early warning signs.
What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease was first described in 1906 by German neurologist Alois Alzheimer. It is a progressive disease that affects the brain which ultimately ends in death. Over time, the brain plaques and tangles develop and deteriorate and atrophy due to loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and sub-cortical some regions of the brain. As the disease progresses and subsequent brain damage, symptoms become more severe. How long the onset of death can vary greatly from person to person.
How common is it?
This is actually the most common form of dementia that affects as many as 5 million Americans and just over 400,000 people in the UK and approximately 24 million people worldwide.
What causes it and who gets? Disease
Alzheimer's is usually associated with older people, because usually starts at the age of 65 years, and the greater the age, the greater the risk, however, there is also an early form Alzheimer's disease is relatively rare, but progresses faster.
Both men and women can develop Alzheimer's, but women seem to be more at risk than men. Other risk factors include medical conditions that affect the heart and arteries, environmental factors such as smoking, and diet. No definitive cause; there is a genetic link below established, although research is being done in this area that some families seem to show a genetic tendency, especially if the two blood relatives have the disease. Other environmental causes that have been suggested in the past include exposure to magnetic fields, or aluminum, but they have not been scientifically validated.
What are the first signs and symptoms?
Most commonly reported early symptom is memory problems. While some memory loss is perfectly normal as we age, people with Alzheimer's disease is a much faster decline and other cognitive problems become more evident.
It is usually family and friends sufferers who will receive notification that someone does not behave in the way they used to. For example, problems with short term memory become more frequent and individual finds it difficult to focus on tasks they once found easy. Personality changes may become apparent and communication problems.
Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may include any or all of the following:
social contact – irritability and anxiety
– Forgetting names and places in
regularly – Repeating itself usually in a short time
– An inability to organize, plan and think coherently
– Difficulty with tasks of daily routine and decision making
– Difficulty with arithmetic, reading, writing and other cognitive tasks
– may be disoriented
familiar places – indulging in strange behavior
Is important to note that these symptoms do not necessarily indicate that someone is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, as these symptoms may appear the same as completely unconnected result of other factors.
In the early stages, a person may be able to compensate well enough these issues and will continue to live and work independently for some time. However, the nature of Alzheimer's is that the symptoms will get progressively worse still, severe dementia is inevitable.
What is the prognosis?
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, so treatment is palliative in nature. As the disease progresses, a person's ability to function independently will decrease eventually lose their mental faculties and control over all body functions. If the disease is diagnosed early, then there is some evidence that, with a good diet and the right kind of support and care, it may be possible to delay disease progression; However, this is not conclusive.
One of the most devastating this disease is the effect it can have on family and friends are forced anyone to see their loved one deteriorate to the point where they no longer recognize. Indeed, there is a higher rate of depression among people with Alzheimer's careers than those with Alzheimer themselves. Many people with Alzheimer
Stay at home, especially in the early stages, and are cared for by family. There is a good deal that can be done on a practical basis to ensure that individual suffering from Alzheimer remain as independent as possible whenever possible, and help and support available for anyone who care for them. There are a number of organizations have been set up with the primary aim to do just that. You can find more information about what is available in your area talking to your doctor or other health care professional.
Category: Healthcare Basics