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Alzheimer’s disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice & help

About Alzheimer’s disease: Definition

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of memory loss (dementia) seen mostly in old age. It is a gradually progressive and complex brain disorder affecting not only memory but also language, reasoning ability and thinking skills.

Alzheimer’s disease: Incidence, age and sex

Alzheimer’s is a disease of old age, most commonly affecting individuals in 6th decade or later. It is one of the most common causes of dementia in old individuals.

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: Diagnosis

Loss of memory also called dementia is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The memory is the earliest feature and characterized by short-term memory loss of recent events. Both mental and behavioural faculties are affected. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsen with time. Disorientation of time and place, confusion and impaired judgement are some associated features signifying deterioration of mental faculties. As the disease progresses, the affected individual may fail to recognize the family members or may forget to even read or write. Even simple tasks like buttoning of shirt or wearing shoes or tying shoe laces may require a lot of mental effort. Some patients may also complain of sleeplessness. Behavioural changes like irritation, aggression, or delusions may also be noted in advanced stages.

Causes and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease:

This disease is complex and caused due to increased deposition of a specific protein called beta amyloid in brain which in turn destroys the nerve cells of brain. Exact cause underlying this disease is not known but both genetic and environmental factors may be responsible. An individual whose parent had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease is at greater risk of acquiring it in future. Other disorders which may increase likelihood of this disease include coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Alzheimer’s disease: Complications

The patient of Alzheimer’s disease may face immense psychological and behavioural effects compounding impaired mental faculties. The most unfortunate part of this disease is that the affected individual becomes completely dependent on others in advanced stage of disease. The patient is unable to take care of himself/herself, which may lead to an increased propensity for infections. Psychological complications like anxiety and depression may ensue. Behavioural changes like aggression may complicate the situation.

Alzheimer’s disease: Treatment

The doctor may conduct some memory and reasoning tests along with brain imaging scans before confirming the disease. Unfortunately, no treatment is available at present which may reverse or stop the progression of the disease. But there are some medications which may delay its progression by regulating certain neurotransmitters in brain. This may help in preventing mental problems and cognitive behavioural decline.