Updated: May 26
The most common type of irreversible dementia
Alzheimer’s is a continuing form of dementia. Most of the time, dementia means that a person is losing their memory, social skills, cognitive skills, and brain function. On average, seven out of ten people suffering from dementia are known to have Alzheimer's.
Our brain is home to millions of brain cells. These cells are responsible for one's memory, learning skills, and overall personality. Alzheimer's disease affects these brain cells, causing impaired thinking, poor memory retention, and behavioral changes. Once the disease takes control, people with Alzheimer's need long-term support and care.
Most confirmed cases fall in the over-60 age group (Sporadic Alzheimer's). If the diagnosis is confirmed at an earlier age (around 40 years), it is termed as “younger onset” or “early onset.” This is also known as Familial Alzheimer's (also referred to as hereditary) and is caused mainly by a rare genetic condition, probably because it runs in the family.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, and as such, there is no cure for the ailment. However, some treatments can slow the advancement of the disease.
More than three million Alzheimer's cases are reported annually in the US.
Research suggests the presence of abnormal protein deposits that damage the brain cells is one of the many unknown causes of Alzheimer's. The threads of the proteins form tangles inside the brain cells, thus killing them. Family history, Down syndrome, age, a head injury, and trauma aggravate the condition.
Since Alzheimer's is a type of dementia, the most common indicator is memory loss. However, just being forgetful is not a confirmatory test for Alzheimer's. Disorientation, hallucination, feeling lost in known places, social withdrawal, inability to perform tasks that seemed very easy until recently, and difficulty in self-care tasks are a few of the symptoms associated with Alzheimer's. Since this is a progressive disorder, the symptoms vary and aggravate with the age and stage of the disease. Since the damage in the brain aggravates, the severity of the symptoms intensifies, and the condition of the patient.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer's disease is an escalating neurodegenerative disorder that influences cognitive function. The disease progresses through three main stages: early, middle, and late. Early-stage symptoms include mild memory loss, difficulty with planning or problem-solving, and confusion with time or place. Individuals may also experience changes in mood and personality, as well as difficulty completing routine tasks. During the middle stage, memory loss, confusion, and trouble with language and communication get worse. People may also have trouble caring for themselves, like bathing and getting dressed, and may need help with daily tasks. Behavioral changes, such as agitation and wandering, are often noticed during this stage. In the last stage, people have a lot of trouble remembering things and may no longer be able to talk. They might need help with all of their daily tasks and might lose the ability to swallow. During this stage, infections and other health problems are highly likely to surface.
It's important to note that the progression of Alzheimer's disease can vary from person to person, and not all individuals will experience the same symptoms or progress through the stages at the same rate. Early detection and treatment not only alleviate the rate of progression of the disease but also enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families.
Just as there isn't any sure-shot list of causes, there isn't one for prevention either. If it runs in the family or you have permanently damaged your brain, you just can't help it. However, based on research and reports, we can narrow down a few measures to delay or control the symptoms. Keeping your brain active (trying cognitive brain exercises), eating well, and restrained alcohol and nicotine intake may help you live a sane life to quite an extent.
Most importantly, staying educated about mental health is very important. Reading this article shows you are already on the right track. If you have a family history of Alzheimer's, please ensure timely medical support. The advancement of the ailment doesn't stop until your test reports are out. So, the sooner the better. Joining support groups and seeking medical help is a plus.
All you have to do is Connect, Consult & Heal!