Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects the memory of an individual. It may lead to emotional and physical incapacities and interference with basic daily activities. There is no known cure yet, but there are a few condition management options available that can help slow down its progress. Below we address these, what causes Alzheimer’s, and other frequently asked questions relating to the disease.
8 Questions (And Answers) About Alzheimer’s Disease
1. What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease affects the memory and cognitive process of the mind. It is characterized primarily by dementia or loss of memory. This develops over time and may affect a person’s behavior and quality of living.
2. When Does Alzheimer’s Disease Start?
Some studies show that the changes in the brain begin approximately 10 years before symptoms of memory loss begin to show. Alzheimer’s symptoms often begin to show for people at the age of 65 and above. Not all aging people experience this, but old age is one of the most common factors of the disease.
3. What Are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
The earliest sign of the Alzheimer’s disease is mild memory loss. The thinking capacity of the person slows down, and basic recall becomes difficult. The disease is a progressive condition.
More advanced cases often develop the following symptoms:
- Difficulty learning new information
- Mood swings
- Behavioral changes
- Affected mobility such as walking and speaking
- Irritability and/or aggression
4. What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
The first case study on Alzheimer’s recorded the brain developing abnormal clumps called amyloid plaques. Along with these clumps are tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary which affect how messages from the brain are transmitted throughout the body.
Factors commonly known to contribute to brain cell deterioration include:
- Age. Old age is the main contributory factor to Alzheimer’s disease. Even so, younger individuals can still encounter this disease.
- Family history. It is not fully confirmed if Alzheimer’s is hereditary but researchers believe that there may be genetic components present in the Alzheimer’s disease. They are currently using these genetic components as a point of reference to explore if the disease can be detected at an earlier stage.
- Health history and condition. Down Syndrome, head injury, and an unhealthy lifestyle are some common causes of brain cell deterioration. Although there is no guarantee, these may help gauge the possibilities of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease later on.
5. How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect the Emotional Capacity of the Patient?
People with Alzheimer’s disease may become aloof and seemingly lost in space. Sudden mood swings also characterize this condition. There are cases when patients are not fully aware that of their condition because of memory loss and altered cognitive function.
6. Is Alzheimer’s Disease Deadly?
The disease is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, especially for older people. Early diagnosis will help prevent the condition from worsening.
7. What Are Management Options for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Symptom management options are available for Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these are:
- Healthy lifestyle. A good lifestyle contributes to healthier aging. This helps reduce the risk of developing the condition. Most practices associated with good lifestyle include a healthy diet, ample physical activity, and social engagements. Drinking purple tea may reinforce the brain’s antioxidant capacity according to a study.
- Behavioral management. Since drug treatments only do little to relieve the effects of Alzheimer’s, remedies that target behavioral management are also used by experts. Behavioral changes such as anxiety, agitation, depression, and wandering are often managed by any of the following resorts:
- Removing key triggers of the behavioral changes
- Observing patterns (such as time of day or stimuli) that are present whenever such behaviors occur
- Provide daily physical exercises such as walking to avoid idleness
- Provide a consistent routine
- Respond with calmness and gentleness to the demands of the person
- Avoid confrontations and high-toned voices when speaking to the person
- Social support. Patients with Alzheimer’s need all the support they can get. Aside from friends and family, there are also specialized support networks that provide this kind of assistance to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these include:
- Professional Counselors
- Support groups
- Hygiene and personal care assistance. As the condition develops, it will affect basic daily activities such as walking and eating. It may also affect bowel movement. Support from family and caregivers will help lessen the burden on the patient. Some of the other daily activities that patients may need assistance with include:
- Oral care (such as brushing and flossing)
- Hair care (brushing the hair and choosing the hairstyle)
- Skincare (washing the face and putting on facial products)
- Nail care (cutting the nails, especially of the feet)
- Bathing and dressing up
8. Where to Go for Treatment
Specialized organizations and health professionals are available to help with Alzheimer’s disease treatments, as mentioned above. Early diagnosis will help prevent or manage possible complications brought about by symptoms. There are usually more significant improvements from cases of patients who went through medical interventions early than those who did not.
If you want to know more about Alzheimer’s disease, check this video out from Ted-Ed:
Alzheimer’s disease can be detrimental to a person’s health and living, as well as to the person’s family and loved ones. Proper education on the condition and coping mechanisms will help those who experience its effects live a life with as little burden and judgment as possible.
Do you have your own Alzheimer’s disease stories? Share with us in the comments section below.