Everything You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease
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Alzheimer’s is a progressive type of Dementia. Dementia is a broader term for disorders triggered by brain damage or illness that adversely impact memory, thought, and actions. These developments have an effect on everyday life.

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Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, accounts for 60 to 80 per cent of cases of Dementia. Most people with the condition get a diagnosis after 65 years of age. If diagnosed by then, Alzheimer’s disease is commonly referred to as early-onset.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although there are medications that can delay the development of the disease.

Alzheimer’s facts

Although many individuals have heard of Alzheimer’s disease, others are not sure precisely what it is. About this state, here are some facts:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a severe condition that will keep getting worse.
  • The signs develop gradually, and the brain effects are degenerative, which means they cause progressive deterioration.
  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medication will help delay the disease’s progression and improve the quality of life.
  • Anyone can get Alzheimer’s disease, but some people are at an increased risk for it. These people include adult over age 65 and those with a family history of the condition.
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia aren’t the same things. Alzheimer’s disease is actually a type of Dementia.
  • For people with Alzheimer’s, there’s no single desired result. Some people live with moderate cognitive damage for a long time, while others have a more rapid onset of symptoms and a faster development of the disease.

There might be a lot of unknowns in Alzheimer’s disease, but one thing is sure, which is Each person’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease is different.

Dementia vs Alzheimer’s

Often the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are used interchangeably. These two conditions, however, are not the same. Alzheimer’s is a type of Dementia.

Dementia is a broader term for disorders with symptoms similar to memory loss, such as forgetfulness and confusion. Dementia involves more complex disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and others that can cause these symptoms.

There may be various causes, signs, and treatments for these diseases. Learn more about the distinction between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease causes and risk factors

Experts have not been able to determine a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but they have identified certain risk factors, including:

  • Age. Most individuals who develop Alzheimer’s disease are aged 65 years or older.
  • Family history. You’re more likely to get it if you have an immediate family member who has acquired the disease.
  • Genes. Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with those genes.

Possessing one or more of these risk factors doesn’t guarantee that one will develop Alzheimer’s disease. It simply increases your level of risk. Chat with your doctor to learn more about the personal risk of acquiring the disease.

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Alzheimer’s and genetics

While there’s no one identifiable cause of Alzheimer’s, genetics may play a key role. Genetics may play a key role, though there is no identifiable cause of Alzheimer’s.

One gene is of concern to researchers in particular. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a gene that has been related in older adults to the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

If you have this gene, blood tests will establish it, which raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Bear in mind that they do not get Alzheimer’s, even though someone has this gene.

The reverse is also true: even though they do not have the gene, someone might still get Alzheimer’s. There is no way to say for sure whether anyone is going to develop Alzheimer’s.

Other genes may also increase Alzheimer’s risk and Alzheimer’s early-onset risk.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

From time to moment, everybody has experiences of forgetfulness. However, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease show some persistent habits and symptoms that deteriorate over time. This may include:

  • Memory loss that affects daily operations, such as the ability to retain appointments
  • The question of familiar duties, such as using a microwave,
  • Problem-solving challenges
  • Problems with speech or writing
  • Getting confused about times or locations
  • Diminished judgment
  • Decreased hygiene for individuals
  • Shifts of attitude and personality
  • Mates, relatives, and group withdrawal
  • Based on the stage of the disease, symptoms change.

Phases of Alzheimer’s Diseases

Alzheimer’s is a chronic condition, meaning that over time the symptoms can progressively intensify. Alzheimer’s is subdivided into seven phases:

  • Stage 1. At this point, there are no signs, but based on family history, there may be an early diagnosis.
  • Stage 2. The earliest signs, such as oblivion, arise.
  • Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments, such as diminished memory and attention, occur. This can only be visible by someone very close to the person.
  • Stage 4. At this point, Alzheimer’s is sometimes diagnosed, but it’s still considered mild. Memory failure and the inability to carry out regular activities are apparent.
  • Stage 5. Moderate to serious symptoms require loved ones or caregivers to support them.
  • Stage 6. An individual with Alzheimer’s may need assistance with simple tasks at this point, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7. The most serious and final stage of Alzheimer’s is this. The loss of speech and facial expressions can occur. They will require increasing help from a caregiver as an individual progresses through these stages.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s

Usually, Alzheimer’s affects people 65 years and older. It can occur, however in individuals as early as their 40s or 50s. This is called Alzheimer’s at early onset, or younger-onset. Around 5 per cent of all individuals with the disease are affected by this form of Alzheimer’s.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms can include moderate lack of memory and difficulty focusing or completing daily tasks. The right words can be difficult to find, and you can lose track of time. Mild vision issues, such as distance telling problems, may also occur.

Certain individuals are at higher risk of developing this disease. 

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Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

Examining the brain tissue following a death is the most conclusive way to identify those with Alzheimer’s disease. But other assessments and tests can be used by your doctor to determine your mental capacity, diagnose Dementia, and rule out other conditions.

They’re likely to begin by having a look at your medical history. They might ask you the following:

  • Symptoms
  • Diet, alcohol intake, or other lifestyle habits
  • Family medical history
  • Current or past medications
  • Other current or past health conditions

After this, the doctor will likely carry out several tests to determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s tests

For Alzheimer’s disease, there is no conclusive examination. However, in order to assess your condition, your doctor will likely perform some tests. There may be assessments that are emotional, physical, physiological, and imaging.

Your doctor can start with a test for mental status. This will assist them in assessing your short-term memory, long-term memory, and position and time orientation.

They can ask you, for instance:

  • Which day is it?
  • That’s who the president is.
  • To recall and remember a shortlist of words.

First, they would possibly perform a physical examination. They could check your blood pressure, measure your heart rate, and take your temperature, for instance. They can collect urine or blood samples for testing in a laboratory in some instances.

Your doctor will also conduct a neurological examination to rule out alternative diagnoses, such as acute medical issues, such as infections or strokes. During this test, they will check your reflexes, muscle tone, and voice.

Tests for brain scans can also be ordered by your doctor. These tests, which will produce pictures of your brain, may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs can assist in the selection of main markers such as inflammation, bleeding and structural problems.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. X-ray images are obtained from CT scans and will help the doctor look for irregular features in the brain.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Photos from the PET scan will help your veterinarian identify plaque accumulation. Plaque is a protein compound linked to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Other tests that your doctor can conduct include blood tests to look for genes that may suggest that you are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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Alzheimer’s medication

Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure. However, to help ease your symptoms and postpone the progression of the disease for as long as possible, your doctor can prescribe medications and other treatments.

Your doctor can prescribe medications such as donepezil (Aricept) or rivastigmine for early to moderate Alzheimer’s (Exelon). These medications can help sustain the brain’s high levels of acetylcholine. This is a kind of neurotransmitter that can help to support your memory.

Your doctor can prescribe Donepezil (Aricept) or Memantine to treat moderate to serious Alzheimer’s (Namenda). Memantine can help to block the effects of glutamate overload. Glutamate is a chemical in the brain that is released by Alzheimer’s disease in higher concentrations and destroys brain cells.

To better relieve symptoms linked to Alzheimer’s, the doctor can also prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics.

Such signs include:

  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations

Other Alzheimer’s treatments

Lifestyle changes can help you manage your condition in addition to medication. Your doctor, for instance, may establish techniques to support you or your loved one:

  • Concentrate on assignments
  • Limit ambiguity
  • Prevent conflict
  • Get enough rest every day, get enough rest,
  • It is important to remain calm,

Some people believe that vitamin E can help prevent mental skills from weakening, but studies show that further research is required. Before taking vitamin E or any other vitamins, be sure to ask your doctor. Any of the drugs used to cure Alzheimer’s disease may interact with it.

There are some different solutions you can ask your doctor about in addition to lifestyle changes.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Much like there is no proven Alzheimer’s cure, there are no preventative measures that are foolproof. Researchers, however, concentrate on overall good lifestyle patterns as ways to avoid cognitive decline.

Steps that can help include the following:

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  • Stop smoking.
  • Regularly workout.
  • Try out exercises for cognitive preparation.
  • Eat a diet that is focused on vegetables.
  • Consume extra antioxidants.
  • Maintaining an active life in society.
  • Before making any major changes in your lifestyle, make sure to consult with your doctor.

Alzheimer’s Disease care

You can consider being a caregiver when you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Usually, this is a full-time work that isn’t easy but can be very satisfying.

It takes a lot of expertise to be a caregiver. Perhaps above all, these include patience, as well as the imagination, endurance, and the opportunity to find joy in helping someone you care for enjoy the most comfortable life they can.

As a caregiver, it is important to take care of both yourself and your loved one. An increased risk of stress, bad diet, and lack of exercise may come with the responsibilities of the job.

You may need to enlist the support of trained caregivers as well as family members to help if you want to assume the role of caregiver.

Alzheimer’s Disease statistics

  • There are daunting figures concerning Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s is one of the most common cause of death among U.S. adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the sixth most common cause. For individuals 65 years and older, it ranks fifth among causes of death.
  • In 2010, 4.7 million Americans over the age of 65 years had Alzheimer’s disease, a report found. These researchers predicted that there would be 13.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s by 2050.
  • Over 90 per cent of people with Alzheimer’s don’t have any symptoms until they are over 60 years old, the CDC reports.
  • Alzheimer’s is a condition that is expensive. In 2017, nearly $259 billion was spent on Alzheimer’s and dementia treatment expenditures in the United States, according to the CDC.

The takeaway

Alzheimer’s is a complicated illness in which many unknowns exist. What is known is that over time, the disease worsens, but medication will help delay symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Your initial step should be talking to your doctor if you think you or a loved one may have Alzheimer’s. They can make a diagnosis, discuss what you can expect, and assist with services and support to connect you. They can also send you details about taking part in clinical trials if you’re interested.

References;

  • Ten early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s: Alz.org
  • Alzheimer’s diagnosis: Alz.org
  • Alzheimer’s disease. (2018): CDC
  • APOE gene. (2018): NIH
  • How is Alzheimer’s disease treated? (2018): NIH
  • Medical tests: Alz.org
  • Treatments: Alz.org
  • Types of Dementia: NIH
  • What is Alzheimer’s?: Alz.org
  • Younger/early onset: Alz.org
Alzheimer's Disease
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Jennifer Aigbini
I am a language enthusiast, studying Linguistics at the University of Benin, in Nigeria.
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