Brain cells can be credited as responsible for so many of the beautiful functions and actions of the human body. When Alzheimer’s hits, those brain cells are destroyed more and more over time. A person affected will eventually succumb to the degenerative, progressive and fatal disease. Most of the time, aged people are affected yet it is not considered a normal part of aging. Some of the symptoms of those affected by this disease include trouble making decisions, difficulty with remembering things, and challenges with performing daily functions. People with Alzheimer’s will behave and feel differently and could have moods that stray from their normal range and personality.
There is no remedy for the disease, nor is there a way to stop it. Some of the people who get the disease are felt to be experiencing dementia or senility, but it is not the exact same thing. Medical News Today (MNT) refers to Alzheimer’s as a neurodegenerative version of dementia.
Alzheimer.ca indicates that as someone gets older, their self-repair mechanisms begin to wane, thus opening the door to the disease. However, they indicate that this self-repair capability is typically not compromised in youth, and occurs instead with aging. They stress that it is, for the most part, an older person’s disease. This might explain why some mistakenly or deliberately refer to it as Old-Timer’s Disease.
Genetics are shown to play a small role in making certain people susceptible to the disease and more likely to get it if a parent had it. There are suspicions that environmental toxins, alcohol use, tobacco use, exercise and diet also contribute to the onset of the disease.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified the disease in 1906. He found plaques and tangles in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. Medical News Today explains that plaques are located between the dead brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s, while the tangles are between the neurons of the brain. Essentially, the brain mass is different (lesser) in those with Alzheimer’s than those who do not have the disease.
Putting a more medical or scientific spin on the disease, Alzheimer’s is classified as a neurological disease. Memory loss and cognitive decline are hallmarks of the disease, causing problems with judgement and thinking.
In 2010, some 4.7 million people of 65 years of age and older were living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. It has also been noted that women are more prone to develop the disease than men. Unfortunately, all reports on the disease share that it is a declining disease. In other words, things get progressively worse over time. Symptoms can be treated with medication, but there is no known cure today.
As a small guide, there are some things to look for if you suspect that a loved one has Alzheimer’s. These include:
- Repetitive questions, conversations or behaviours
- Misplacing personal belongings
- Forgetting events, appointments or sentimental dates like anniversaries and birthdays
- Poor understanding of safety risks and educated conversation
- Inability to manage funds
- Poor decision-making ability
- Inability to manage common implements or orient clothing to the body
- Inability to recognize faces or ordinary objects
- Failure to empathize
- Compulsive, obsessive or socially unacceptable violent behaviour
Coping with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s of yourself or family members is very difficult. The loss of independence is one of the biggest concerns for most who receive the diagnosis. Living with the fact that the disease will not go away alters your outlook on life as well as your lifestyle. However, it is important to remember that there are many medical and personal support systems alongside you.
As a person with Alzheimer’s, getting help with decisions, modifying work activities and environment, taking longer to do things and planning accordingly are very important. At some point, there may be the need for a caregiver. These are all factors to consider when dealing with an accepting the disease.
There is also a large advantage of being armed with adequate information about the disorder, doing things one enjoys, using resources and support services, learning to manage stress, and asking for help medical, mental and/or physical help. Counselling is another option that can be debated.
The AFA, Alzheimer Foundation of America and their member organizations and Alzheimer Association (AA) are rich in resources, active in advocacy and dedicated to the people whose lives are impacted by the life-altering disorder.
AA has local chapters as well as a helpline that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be reached at 1.800.272.3900.
If you have further concerns about Alzheimer’s, our team of physicians at www.askthedoctor.com is here to help find you treatment. We wish you well and hope to be of any assistance, any time!