Have you been forgetting things lately, calling your neighbor by the wrong name, or misplacing things? This might be a symptom that you or someone around you with these symptoms is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
This disease results in the depletion of nerve cells of the brain tissue and is one of the leading cause of death.
These are some common memory lapses we all experience, but with age, if this forgetfulness happens more than often, then it’s an alarming sign.
In this article, we will discuss one of the most common types of dementia i.e. Alzheimer’s Disease.
One of the most common forms of Dementia is Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is a broad term that is used to describe symptoms of cognitive decline including memory loss, depletion of nerve cells.
Hence, It is often termed as a cognitive disability.
There are various forms of dementia.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Mixed Dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
A person with Alzheimer’s Disease is unable to perform day-to-day functions, has difficulty in remembering a number of things, ability to carry objects, misplacing things, and memory lapses.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a side effect of dementia.
It is a cognitive disability of a person in which he or she is unable to perform various functions of life. A person may suffer from memory loss, difficulty in remembering things, talking and more.
We all suffer from momentary memory loss during our life but when this lapse worsens with time, that means that we need to consult the doctor as soon as possible.
Most often, Alzheimer’s affects different people, differently. Its time and severity might vary from person to person and the stages they may experience may differ as well.
The risk factors are old age, family history, Down’s syndrome, head injuries, and cardiovascular diseases.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
The most common symptom shown by an Alzheimer’s patient is a lapse in memory. Most often, with increasing age, our various abilities related to the brain change.
As with increasing age, we might experience slow thinking and time-to-time problems in remembering things.
However, memory loss, confusion, and performing day-to-day duties becomes difficult which might mean that brain cells are failing.
Most often, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are not evident in a person. But as the disease progresses, memory impairments may worsen and symptoms develop.
Moreover, the common cause of Dementia is Alzheimer’s.
Some of these symptoms are described below.
With increasing age, we all experience certain memory lapses, but if this situation worsens, then it certainly means that a person may be suffering from Alzheimer’s.
A person with Alzheimer may:
- Not be able to remember familiar places and get lost
- Repeat the statement they said a moment ago again and again
- Forget the conversation they just had, appointments in the office, or important events and may not remember them later
- Misplace important things or things in general or putting them in places that do not make sense
- With the passage of time, they may forget the names of family members, friends, various things that they use in everyday life
- They may not be to speak or remember the right words
- They may not be able to express what they feel or what they might be thinking
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s may not be able to make daily life decisions.
Moreover, they face a decline in making reasonable decisions over time.
For instance, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s may not be able to make a decision about what clothes to wear in the changing weather.
With time, it becomes difficult for them to make effective and timely decisions and respond to daily life situations effectively.
Reasoning and Thinking
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s to unable to think and make focused decisions effectively.
They may not be able to think more accurately about numbers, paying bills, managing finances in time.
With time, it becomes difficult for them to think and reason about situations that involve numbers or reasoning with the situations.
Changes in Behavior and Personality
With time, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s shows a number of behavioral and personality changes. These changes may be:
- sudden mood swings
- changes in sleep patterns
- wandering about in certain places
- loss of inhabitations
- delusional thinking
- not socializing
- aggressive behavior
- not trusting family or friends
Performing familiar tasks
As Alzheimer’s is a cognitive disease that impairs a person from performing various functions, with every passing day, it becomes difficult for them to perform day-to-day routine functions properly.
A person may not be able to perform routine functions like cooking, playing favorite games, using gadgets properly.
Eventually, a person suffering may completely forget how to perform day-to-day functions at all.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
There are a number of causes of Alzheimer’s and are diagnosed with the help of a doctor. These are:
Genetics here plays an important role in determining whether a person suffers from Alzheimer’s or not.
Apolipoprotein (APOE) is a gene that has been linked to Alzheimer’s symptoms.
A blood test often determines that whether a person may be at a risk or not.
An important thing to keep in mind is that it is not a definite rule that the presence of this gene certainly means that you will suffer from Alzheimer’s eventually.
One of the other causes of Alzheimer’s is protein build-up.
One of the proteins involved is called Beta Amyloid. These protein deposits in the body are due to plaques.
Abnormal levels of beta-amyloid can clump together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell funcation.
Another protein is Tau, due to which tangles are formed within the brain cells.
With time, as more and more brain cells become infected, there is a decrease in our brain’s neurotransmitters. Over time, different parts of the brain shrink, causing memory loss at first.
Although, scientists have not been able to understand yet, why these proteins accumulate, these start affecting the brain many years before major symptoms appear.
One of the most major causes of Alzheimer’s is age.
With every passing year since a person reaches 65, he or she is prone to this disease.
But it’s not necessary that only older people are affected. 1 in 20 young people is also prone to be affected due to Alzheimer’s.
This is called early-onset Alzheimer’s’ Disease and affects people at the age of 40.
People suffering from Down’s Syndrome are most often prone to suffering from this disease. This is caused due to an ongoing genetic default that causes Down’s syndrome.
Down’s syndrome is caused due to protein buildup in the body that is caused due to plaque over time that in due course leads to Alzheimer’s.
Researches suggest that various lifestyle changes in one’s life also lead to Alzheimer’s. Cardiovascular diseases often lead to Alzheimer’s.
These changes include:
- Increase in weight
- Changes in blood sugar level
- High blood pressure
- Changes in cholesterol level
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s undergoes seven stages but these stages may overlap. These are:
Stage 1: Before Symptoms Appear
This stage often begins 10-15 years before a person starts showing symptoms. It is called preclinical Alzheimer’s.
As with increasing age, a person is prone to suffer from this disease, regular check-ups can indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s in a person.
Stage 2: Basic Forgetfulness
With the passage of time, every one of us goes through changes that include forgetting things.
But if you notice memory lapses in a person around you, forgetting names and places, not remembering basic life routines, then they need to visit the doctor.
The person suffering may not be able to notice these changes at first but the people around them would.
Stage 3: Memory difficulties that are noticeable
At this stage, remembering things goes beyond further as a person is unable to do routine things.
The person may:
- Have trouble remembering books, magazines that they have recently read
- Remembering names
- Not be able to sit in social gatherings
At this stage, it is important to talk to a physician or doctor and take proper medications.
Stage 4: More than memory loss
At this stage, the person suffers from other cognitive disabilities like speaking, organizing things, planning, etc.
This stage may last for several years. The person may remember important details of their lives but forget how to carry out day-to-day life chores.
Some other challenges they might face are:
- Confusion in thinking and making reasonable decisions
- Wandering or getting lost in familiar places
- Not being able to make changes in daily life
- Changes in sleep patterns
During this stage, a person may undergo sudden changes in mood or be withdrawn.
Stage 5: Decreased Independence
During this stage, a person starts forgetting major things and details related to their life like remembering the names of family and friends.
Before this stage, a person may not need any assistance but at this stage, the patient needs continuous assistance of a family member.
During this stage, a person may show emotional changes like delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.
As the person’s dependency increases, they may undergo major or severe disability in cognitive thinking.
They may be speaking but in fragments or phrases and are usually not able to explain or use the right words while speaking.
Behavioral changes also increase. When a person becomes more dependent they may feel more anxious, stressed, and worse paranoia and delusions.
Stage 7: Lack of Physical control
With time when the patient’s brain cells are destroyed, they need round-the-clock assistance from a family member.
At this stage, the patient often loses control over their body movements and may shut down as their mind struggles to communicate.
Moreover, excessive care is needed as the patient is more prone to attacks of infections like pneumonia.
Role As A Caregiver
As a caregiver, a person might feel overwhelmed due to the continuous physical and emotional demands of the patient.
One should consider relying on the family members and doctors in time of help.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s
To date, there has been no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, physicians and doctors prescribe certain medications to help with the symptoms and delay the progression of this disease.
In the early stages doctor may prescribe:
To help maintain the levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
To treat moderate symptoms doctor may prescribe:
To help patients with various emotional and behavioral changes doctors prescribe anti-depressants, antianxiety medications, or antipsychotics.
In addition to medications, certain life changes may help a patient manage the symptoms.
- Focusing on tasks at hand
- Avoiding confrontation
- Getting enough rest
- Staying calm
Adapting to the changes with the patient is important for the caregiver. With progression in the disease, the caregiver along with the patient needs more support.
People with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss, emotional and behavioral changes. They need continuous support in carrying out there day to day routine as the disease progresses.
Proper medications and therapy along with a regular appointment with the doctor are necessary to keep the symptoms in check.
To date, there is no cure but certain medications can help slow down the process and ease cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms however in some cases, it is a leading cause of death.
If you or your loved ones are showing these signs and you suspect they have Alzheimer’s disease then book their appointment with our doctors at REPC Dubai soon.