- 1 What is Alzheimer’s disease?
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 25 million people worldwide. It is characterized by the loss of memory and the normal functioning of the mind, which prevents living a normal life and which may end up taking away the identity of the person who suffers from it.
In this disease, brain cells degenerate, especially those related to reasoning, learning and memory. So-called senile plaques appear in the brain, composed mainly of amyloid beta.
At what age does Alzheimer’s appear?
It usually affects people over 65 years old, although there is a variety that can affect people between 40 and 50 years early (early-onset Alzheimer’s).
As people get older, they are more likely to develop the disease. Thus, if between 65 and 80 years affects 10% of the population, from 85 years half of the population suffers from this disease.
Consequences of Alzheimer
It is a progressive degenerative disease, a type of dementia, which usually has a fatal outcome in a period between 8 and 15 years from its appearance. For the relatives of the sick, this disease creates such a great dependence that it involves great physical and psychological effort. Many times, this disease is responsible for the appearance in the family environment of great tensions, tiredness or depression problems in the people who take care of the patient.
Despite its severity, it needs to be diagnosed promptly, because, although it cannot be cured, it can improve some symptoms, delay its progression and avoid complications. Early treatment improves the prognosis of the disease
Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s may go unnoticed at first. Generally these are small memory losses that, in most cases, are usually attributed to natural processes of aging.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become clearer. Some of the early symptoms that can warn us of this disease are:
- Memory problems that make daily life difficult, such as depending on others for things that were not necessary before, asking newly learned things, or repeatedly forgetting the same information.
- Difficulty managing everyday situations and solving simple math problems, such as keeping accounts at home. It is not about making a mistake in adding or subtracting, but about not remembering how it was done.
- Difficulty understanding something if it is not happening at the same moment, which generates an inability to attend to reasoning.
- Difficulty conversing and communicating because they are unable to reason.
- Inability to remember instructions or perform tasks that you previously knew or were capable of, at work, in your family or social environment. For example, forgetting to play some very popular game.
- Difficulty remembering what season they are in. Sometimes they don’t remember where they are or how they got to where they are.
- Not remembering the name of everyday objects, such as cutlery, plates, or salad.
- Sudden changes in character or personality, which can cause reactions such as excessive empathy, or sudden anger. Sometimes it may be the case that they give away a lot of money to strangers who sell products, or that they get upset for unnecessary reasons.
- Being unable to remember recent moments, such as what they just did, or what they did the day before, sometimes, even if they are shown images or explained to them.
- Putting objects out of place and forgetting where they have been placed. People with Alzheimer’s often lose many objects.
Alzheimer’s degrees or classification
We could say that there are three degrees of Alzheimer’s:
- Mild: The main symptoms are memory loss, forgetting objects, personality changes with the appearance of behaviors different from those manifested until then (irritability, nervousness, depression, fear, disinterest in previous preferred activities), the inability to continue doing a job, lack of orientation in familiar places.
- Moderate: Loss of recent memory and self-consciousness, inability to take care of personal (problems dressing, bathing, eating food, etc.) Loss of the logical thread in the conversation, expression problems, repetition of the same thought , violent behavior or inability to recognize friends or family Severe: Loss of control of urination or defecation, incoherent speech. Total inability to fend for oneself with total dependence on others.
The exact causes that determine the onset of Alzheimer’s disease are not known. The accumulation of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and aluminum, was initially thought to cause this disease. This theory is currently totally discarded. Among the possible causes currently studied are the following:
- Lack of blood supply to brain cells
- Inflammation of the brain
- Bumps or injuries affecting the head
- Genetic mutations: are those that usually affect Alzheimer’s cases that appear before the age of 60 and that only represent 5 to 10% of the total. Presence on chromosome 19 of the apoE4 gene
- Ingesting too much aluminum? Through water or utensils such as frying pans in poor condition. This theory does not seem to have much influence according to the latest studies.
- Food causes of improper diet: Some researchers refer to this type of dementia as “type 3 diabetes.”
Alzheimer’s risk factors
Among the risk factors that could trigger the disease are:
Alzheimer diagnosis and treatment
Given the appearance of symptoms that may alert about the possible existence of this disease, a visit to the doctor is necessary to diagnose, through the patient’s medical history and a series of physical examinations, if the patient presents with this disease.
Although scientifically the only 100% sure diagnosis is an autopsy that determines physical changes in the brain, the medical diagnosis, which is usually quite long, can diagnose with an 80 or 90% certainty of its existence and rule out other diseases or nutritional deficiencies that they could produce similar symptoms.
Can Alzheimer’s be cured?
Alzheimer’s cannot heal or recover damaged parts of the patient’s brain. Medicine has the possibility of administering a series of drugs that can delay its development or improve symptoms. A very important factor to consider is patient care. It is important to note the following guidelines:
- Provide the patient with a daily routine so that the patient feels mentally more secure.
- Provide the patient with a social environment with friends and family to stimulate memory. Exercises that stimulate memory or daily readings can be very beneficial in delaying memory loss.
- Provide the patient with adequate, prescribed and supervised exercise to keep him in good physical condition. A short daily walk is very suitable, which improves circulation and provides more irrigation to the brain.
- Administer medications or monitor your taking.
- Provide the patient with an adequate diet so that their health does not suffer: The diet must be guided from the beginning, ensuring that the patient eats properly.
- Provide the patient with a vital space devoid of impediments or dangers that can facilitate their life and prevent them from being injured. Among the possible solutions to consider we would have the following: Supports in the bathroom, railings in the bed, doors on the stairs, protections in the light sockets, lockable cabinets to store knives.
- Provide caregivers with the necessary support so that they are able to carry out their heavy tasks and that they do not fall into discouragement or depression.
More information about Alzheimer’s disease
27 June, 2020