With Alzheimer’s so much in the news and such a bleak picture associated with this disease , it is but natural to have apprehensions that whether you or your loved ones could be on the brink of the disease or some other form of dementia. This worry is compounded in people who have a history of Alzheimer’s in their families.
Don’t panic. Not all incidences of misplaced keys, inability to recall a name, forgetfulness to pay a bill on time mean that you have Alzheimer’s diseases. Stress can be a huge culprit when it comes to memory problems, as can medications, infections and sleep deprivation. So it’s important to take a realistic knowledge about this disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a thief which slowly and stealthily steals and erases the memories. Therefore caring for someone throughout the stages of AD is an arduous task and can leave caregivers feeling powerless and frustrated. Understanding how Alzheimer’s affects the brain can help caregivers know more about what to expect as their loved one progresses through the disease, and how to prepare for that progression. And more important is the fact that armed with this knowledge, they are in a much better position to take care of the patient. Reducing the amount of surprise makes care giving less stressful.
Through a series of articles on AD, we have made a sincere attempt to spread awareness about this disease.
1. Is Memory Loss A Normal Process Of Aging?
Answer: Slowing down of memory is a common occurrence with aging. As people age, it’s normal to have occasional memory problems, such as forgetting the name of a person you’ve recently met. However, these forgotten thoughts return with some delay. This is not memory loss, it is aging.Memory loss is a condition wherein a person entirely forgets important information such as a loved one’s name, route to his home, etc. This sort of a memory loss is not normal and may be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease; it needs immediate attention. If you or someone has memory problems or other problems with thinking and learning that concern you, contact a physician.
2. Is Alzheimer’s Disease An Old Person’s Disease?
Answer: Age is the strongest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. But this does not mean that most people develop the disease as they age. Most do not. Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer’s. What’s most important to understand is that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
3. What Exactly Happens In Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: Alzheimer’s disease is “a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.”
4. Do Patients Die Of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: Alzheimer’s disease slowly affects and kills the brain cells. This results in not only loss of memory but along with memory, the body forgets how to perform vital functions such as movement, eating, etc. This will eventually lead to the death of the individual.
5. Do Women Have A Greater Risk Of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: Per se there is no direct correlation between being a women and the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. However as age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the longer people live, the more likely they are to develop the disease. Since various studies show that women in general have longer longevity men, they may have a higher lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Why Is An Early Diagnosis Important?
Answer: An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can increase the chance of potential benefits from approved medications. It also allows the person with AD to participate in health care, financial and legal decisions.
7. Is There Any Treatment For Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: There is currently no permanent cure for Alzheimer’s disease. For some people in the early to middle stages of the disease, new medications may provide limited cognitive symptom relief. As the symptoms and behaviour of such patients are not uniform and vary on case to case basis, behavioural symptom management is also very management .In addition to medicines, interventions like family education on care giving , counselling, modification of the environment and planned activities to suit the individual needs of the patient .are of paramount importance.
8. Can A Healthy Life Style (Exercise, Diet, And Mental Activities) Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: Many people believe that exercise and mental activity can help prevent Alzheimer’s. However the scientific evidence is unclear on this issue. A few studies have, indeed, found that eating a healthy diet, engaging in aerobic exercise on a regular basis, staying socially active, and keeping your mind engaged with games and puzzles are linked to lower odds of getting Alzheimer’s. Studies also suggest that these same lifestyle changes may reduce the progression of symptoms for people who already have Alzheimer’s disease.
9. What Are The Common Symptoms/Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: Symptoms/warning signs of AD may include the following:
- memory loss or unexplained confusion that interferes with daily activities
- difficulty in performing familiar tasks and chores
- problems speaking, understanding, reading or writing
- forgetting words or substituting inappropriate words
- disorientation to time and place (e.g., getting lost in familiar surroundings)
- poor or decreased judgment (e.g., wearing a winter coat on a hot summer day)
- problems with abstract thinking (e.g., difficulty balancing a check book)
- misplacing things in inappropriate places (e.g., putting the iron in the freezer)
- changes in mood or behaviour (e.g., rapid mood swings for no apparent reason or cursing)
- drastic changes in personality (e.g., suspiciousness)
- lack of interest and involvement in usual activities
· Asking the same question over and over again.
· Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.
· Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards – activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.
· Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
10. Can You Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Answer: No prophylactic treatment or intervention can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are learning, however, that lifestyle choices that keep mind and body fit may help lower the risk of developing the disease. These choices include being physically active; eating healthy foods including fresh fruits, vegetables and fish; keeping your brain challenged; reducing stress, keeping an eye on your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels; avoiding traumatic brain injury; and keeping socially active.
Some people believe that avoiding aluminum in cooking utensils (pots and pans) reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Although there’s been a lot research into the connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, there’s no definite evidence to show a link. The disease appears to develop when the different risk factors combine. This includes older age, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. These factors overwhelm the natural capacity of the brain to deal with them.