According to Wikipedia Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also referred to simply as Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gradually worsens
A broader description is giving in Healthline online magazine. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living.
While there is no known cure for this disease there are treatments that can slow its progression.
Of all the documented dementia cases Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 percent of this disease.
Alzheimer’s is mostly diagnosed in people after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before, it’s generally referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
There are much information and misinformation about this dreaded disease. So here are some facts about this condition, taken from Healthline:
- Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic ongoing condition.
- Its symptoms come on gradually and the effects on the brain are degenerative, meaning they cause a slow decline.
- There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s but treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and may improve the quality of life.
- Anyone can get Alzheimer’s disease but certain people are at higher risk for it. This includes people over age 65 and those with a family history of the condition.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t the same things. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.
- There’s no single expected outcome for people with Alzheimer’s. Some people live a long time with mild cognitive damage, while others experience a more rapid onset of symptoms and quicker disease progression.
Each person’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease is different.
Alzheimer’s disease causes and risk factors
There is no single cause of Alzheimer’s disease but they have identified certain risk factors, including:
- Age. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years of age or older.
- Family history. If you have an immediate family member who has developed the condition, you’re more likely to get it.
- Genetics. Certain genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Having one or more of these risk factors raises your risk level but doesn’t mean that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s and genetics
There is one particular gene that seems to play a significant part in the cause of Alzheimer’s and that is the Apolipoprotein (APOEP) gene, it has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s in older adults.
It is good to know that one can have this gene present and still not get the Alzheimer’s and also you can still get the disease and not have this gene present. A blood test can determine if you have this gene,
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
All of us at some time in our lives experience episodes of forgetfulness from time to time.
But people with Alzheimer’s disease not only have these episodes of forgetfulness but also display certain ongoing behaviors and symptoms that worsen over time. These can include:
- memory loss affecting daily activities, such as an ability to keep appointments
- the trouble with familiar tasks, such as using a microwave
- difficulties with problem-solving
- trouble with speech or writing
- becoming disoriented about times or places
- decreased judgment
- decreased personal hygiene
- mood and personality changes
- withdrawal from friends, family, and community
Symptoms change according to the stage of the disease The later the stage the worse the symptoms.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
The progression of Alzheimer’s is broken down in 7 stages, starting from the stage with the lease symptoms to the final stage which usually means death.
- Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
- Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
- Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
- Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
- Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
- Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
- Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.
As a person progresses through these stages, they’ll need increasing support from a caregiver.
One Definitive way in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease
In the diagnosing of Alzheimer’s, there is only one definitive way to diagnose someone and that can only happen after their death by examing their brain tissue.
But doctors can use other examinations and tests to assess your mental abilities, diagnose dementia, and rule out other conditions.
These assessments will likely start by taking a medical history. They may ask about your:
- family medical history
- other current or past health conditions
- current or past medications
- diet, alcohol intake, or other lifestyle habits
The results from assessments will be analyzed, and the doctor will likely do several tests to help determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease.
As of now date there are no definitive tests for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are several tests that can be done to determine your diagnosis.
These can be mental, physical, neurological, and imaging tests. This will probably start with a mental status test. This can help them assess your short-term memory, long-term memory, and orientation to place and time. For example, they may ask you:
- what day it is
- who the president is
- to remember and recall a short- list of words
Next, a physical exam will be done, they may check your blood pressure, assess your heart rate, and take your temperature. In some cases, they may collect urine or blood samples for testing in a laboratory.
A neurological exam may also be done to rule out other possible diagnoses, such as an acute medical issue, such as infection or stroke. During this exam, they will check your reflexes, muscle tone, and speech.
Brain-imaging studies may also be done,these studies, create pictures of your brain, can include:
Other tests that could be done could include blood tests to check for genes that may indicate you have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
As stated before there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. There is, however, recommend medications and other treatments to help ease your symptoms and delay the progression of the disease for as long as possible.
These symptoms can include but not limited to
Other Alzheimer’s treatments
In addition to medication, there are certain things that you as a caregiver can do to help your patient ore loved one better able to manage the condition.
This would likely focus on a lifestyle change and some type of exercise that will assist you to
focus on tasks
- limit confusion
- avoid confrontation
- get enough rest every day
- stay calm
There is some information about different vitamins or other supplements that can be taken that will help in preventing Alzheimer’s. I would strongly suggest speaking to a doctor before going on any of these regiments. In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several alternative options you can ask your doctor about.
There are no foolproof ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. However, researchers are focusing on overall healthy lifestyle habits as ways of preventing cognitive decline.
The following measures may help:
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly.
- Try cognitive training exercises.
- Eat a plant-based diet.
- Consume more antioxidants.
- Maintain an active social life.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any big changes in your lifestyle. The statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s disease are daunting.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the sixth most common cause of death among U.S. adults. It ranks fifth among causes of death for people 65 years and older.
There are still a lot of unknowns with regards to Alzheimer’s disease, is a What we know for sure is that the condition worsens over time, but treatment can help delay symptoms and improve your quality of life.
So if you notice a loved one displaying any of these symptoms shown in this post, no matter how slight it may be, it is better to be proven wrong that let the condition becoming worse and not getting the symptoms treated,
There are several organizations that will provide information about Alzheimer’s such as https://adrccares.org/ Alzheimer’s and dementia resource center.,https://www.alz.org/ Alzheimer’s Association national site and many more
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