Alzheimer’s disease, called AD in short, is widely known as a disease in which the patient suffers from dementia. Actually, there are some other symptoms also in addition to dementia.
Usual age of onset of Alzheimer’s is 65 onward, though there are a few cases of the early onset too. It seems to be affecting more and more number of people and is going to be more widespread in times to come.
Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Medical fraternity believes that the causes of Alzheimer’s may be a combination of a few conditions. Genetic factors, environmental factors and lifestyle all together are likely to cause the deterioration of brain as the time progresses.
It is clearly a disease where many brain cells get killed and the ones which remain are poorly connected to each other. In some cases, specific genetic changes bring about the Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the beginning, forgetful is the major symptom but gradually, confusion, disorientation also take over. One forgets events, conversations and repeats statements again and again. Misplaces the things and forgets the names of not only the things but also of family members. Their personality and behavior change to the extent of depression and withdrawal from society. Ability to read and write gets may not remain there and the person also loses sense of judgement.
Thinking abilities and reasoning also go in for a toss. Management of finances and bills becomes a herculean task for them,dealing with numbers becomes difficult. They may not have the sense of special relationships and the sense of directions, which is likely to make them get lost even in the familiar places. The seasons and days also may not be understood by them. Hence, we see that all this gradually leads to deterioration in general, leading to death.
Advancing age is one of the factors, nearly half the people over 85 years suffer from Alzheimer’s, though in many cases it is mild. Usual age of onset is above 65 years. Then comes the family history, if a blood relative has this disease, the chance of getting afflicted with Alzheimer’s becomes high.
Women are more likely to have Alzheimer’s than the men. Those who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at a higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s, though it does not mean that all those who have MCI will have this disease. Head trauma patients also have higher risk. Other risk factors though not so prominent, may be diabetes not managed well, lack of opportunities for social mingling or unhealthy lifestyle.
Treatment Of Alzheimer’s
Treatment includes drugs, environment of good support, exercise and nutrition. Cognitive disability and memory deterioration symptoms can be treated to an extent with Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. These work to improve the brain cell communication network. At times these two drugs are used in combination.
As far as living environment around the patient is concerned, it is extremely important to make it suitable to as many needs of the patient as possible. The changes needed include removing excessive furniture and things, thus making it clutter-free. The handrails should be fixed wherever required, in bathrooms and staircase. Regular exercise is an important aspect of treatment plan. Joints, heart and muscles need to be strengthened. Hence, treadmill and exercises need to be encouraged.