Elderly Health

Overview of Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder. It was named (Alzheimer's) after the German physician Alois (Alzheimer), who was the first to diagnose it in 1906. Later, scientists of the past century managed to find out a lot of important facts related to the disease.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
It is an progressive cerebral disease that destroys brain cells, causing serious disorders with the faculties of memory, thinking and behavior. Furthermore, it severely affects the patient's life and work, as well as his pattern of social life. As time passes, the patient's case deteriorates continuously, and often leads to his demise. Nowadays, Alzheimer's disease is ranked the sixth major reason for death around the world. Alzheimer's disease is a general term of losing memory (Amnesia) and other mental faculties. Its danger lies in the fact that it almost paralyses the everyday life of the patient. It is an incurable disease at the present. However, its symptoms can be successfully cured. And by supporting the patients, they become able to adapt to the disease, and make their lives better.
The Early Stage of Alzheimer's Disease:
It is the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which appear in the form of problems in thinking, memory, and concentration. Such symptoms remarkably appear during conducting the medical examinations at the concerned physician's clinic. Patients of this stage usually require only simple support from those around them, to be able to practice the everyday activity. They are often diagnosed in more advanced stages of the disease. Hence, we mean by the term early-onset Alzheimer's, the onset of the disease in people under the age of 65 years. 
Stages of the Disease:

Stage 1:
This stage does not include any cognitive impairment (normal function). The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.

Stage 2:
This stage comprises a very mild cognitive decline (may be due to normal age-related changes or it may be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease). The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses, forgetting familiar words and names or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends or family.

Stage 3:
It is the stage of mild cognitive decline (early-stage of Alzheimer's disease). Friends and family begin to notice difficulties. Memory-related problems can be divided during examination, and they include the following difficulties:
  • Have problems with remembering names and words, noticed by the close people. 
  • Have troubles with remembering the new names.
  • Have problems in social performance and work performance.
  • Retain little of what has been read.
  • Have increasing trouble with planning or organizing, as well as losing or misplacing a valuable object.

Stage 4:
It is the stage of moderate cognitive decline (mild stage of Alzheimer's disease). This stage is characterized by the following difficulties:
  • Have troubles with recognizing the latest or current events. 
  • Be unable to perform challenging mental arithmetic — for example, counting backward.
  • Experience greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, or paying bill.
  • Patient forgets his own personal history.
  • Patient becomes helpless and easily-guided.

Stage 5:
It is the stage of moderately severe cognitive decline (moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease) Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities. This stage is characterized by the following difficulties:
  • Be unable to recall the significant details such as the address or the telephone number, among others.
  • Become confused about dates and days.
  • Have trouble with arithmetic operations such as subtraction and so forth.
  • Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion.
  • Patients usually retrieve basic information about themselves, their name, children, or life partner.
  • Still require no assistance with eating or using the toilet.
Stage 6:
It is the stage of severe cognitive decline (moderately severe stage of Alzheimer's disease). Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. This stage is characterized by the following difficulties:
  • Lose awareness of most recent events.
  • Remember their own names generally but have difficulty with their personal history.
  • Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but might have trouble with the name of a spouse or caregiver.
  • Need help to wear their clothes properly; namely, they are in need of a caretaker.
  • Suffer from an increase in urination rate or stool incontinence.
  • Experience major personality and behavioral changes, such as believing that their caregiver is an impostor, or developing hallucination symptoms.
  • Tend to wander any may become lost.

Stage 7:
It is the stage of very severe cognitive decline (Severe or late-stage of Alzheimer's disease). In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement.
Risk Factors:
  • Age.
  • Patient's family history.
  • Genetics and heredity.
  • Gender (for women are more susceptible to infection than men).
    Some risk factors that cause cardiac disease may also increase the possibility of developing Alzheimer's disease, such as:
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Irregular blood sugar levels.
  • Obesity.
A physician usually collects information relating to the patient's medical\health history (either from him or his family), to see whether there are similar medically relevant cases. Then, the physician behaves as follows::
  • Preliminary examination and laboratory tests.
  • Psychological and mental assessment tests, including, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and The Mini-Cog.
  • Brain imaging; including structural imaging and functional imaging by means of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or Computerized Tomography (CT), or Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
For the time being, there is no medication for Alzheimer's disease; however, physicians prescribe medications to relieve its symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, emotional disturbances, and depression. Still, there two types of medications certified to relieve its severity, namely:

1. Cholinesterase inhibitors - including:
  • Donepezil (Aricept) 
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon) 
  • Galantamine (Razadyne)

2. Mematine (Namenda)
It is the first drug certified for treating Alzheimer's, rather than relieving its symptoms. It regulates the activity of glutamate, another chemical transmitter located between learning and memory cells, and delays worsening of symptoms for some people temporarily.
Keep in mind that it is necessary for the patient to have his family and friends around him, and to adequately rest and enjoy new or familiar experiences. Also, talking with the patient should be formulated in short and simple sentences, focusing on one idea, and the patient should be given sufficient time for response. In addition, it is important to avoid distracting voices when talking to the patient (for instance, TV and radio). Finally, the patient's routine has to be maintained to avoid distraction and enhance communication
Last Update : 08 August 2017 09:32 AM
Reading times :