According to the National Institute on Aging NIA: Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
An In-Depth Look At Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a kind of dementia that has been found to cause problems with people’s behavior, memory and thought process. Symptoms usually progresses slowly and will worsen over time, becoming serious enough to interfere with day to day tasks. Alzheimer’s disease affects different parts of the patient’s brain causing various symptoms sometimes not diagnosed prior to the later stages of the disease.
What Some Causes of Alzheimer’s?
The cause for some Alzheimer’s cases is still mostly unexplained except for 1 to 5 percent of cases where genetic variations have been recognized.
If a person who has Alzheimer’s is a parent or grandparent, they can pass on the disease to their offspring.
Keeping a well balanced diet can help protect the brain. Following a heart-healthy diet can decrease future cognitive deterioration by up to 35 percent.
Patients that have had certain head injuries early in life run a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The worse the head injury is, the greater the risk.
There are two categories of genes that effect whether a person develops a disease. One is deterministic genes and the other risk genes; Alzheimer’s genes have been located in both of them.
It is unclear but those who have Down Syndrome may develop Alzheimer’s in their 30’s and 40’s.
What Are The Different Phases of Alzheimer’s?
There are different phase your loved one will go through when developing Alzheimer’s. It really comes down to what part of the brain is affected.
1) Normal Behavior
You probably won’t notice any symptoms in your loved one, but taking a test may uncover a problem.
2) Very Mild Changes
At this phase you will probably pick up on small differences in their behavior, such as misplacing more things that usual, or skipping a word or two.
3) Mild Changes
During this phase you start to notice changes in your loved one reasoning and thinking. They may forget what they just read, forget doctor’s appointments or may ask the same question over and over.
4) Moderate Changes
The changes you saw in phase 3 will be more prominent. You will begin to see new issues appear and may start to stress to your loved one about retiring or stopping driving. You also want to make sure they aren’t getting taken advantage of.
5) Moderately Severe Change
At this point, you loved one may forget what day it is, what season, and may need help with picking out clothes. Even if they can’t remember where they went to school at, they still may be able to tell a story.
6) Severe Change
You loved on may start to get more confused, they remember faces but not names, they may mistake a complete stranger as a good friend. They may want to go to work, but are no longer employed. You may have to assist helping they go to the restroom. It may also start to be difficult to talk.
7) Very Severe Change
Your loved one at this point may be bedridden, they need help eating, can no longer eat solid foods. They may no longer talk or respond to outside stimuli. You loved one is going to need 24 hour assistance.
What Are Some Treatments for Alzheimer’s Patients?
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are steps you can take to make their lives a little better. An unwritten rule is to get plenty of exercise and keep and eat a healthy diet.
Although there are no current medications to cure Alzheimer’s, there are medications that can make your loved ones life a little easier. There are many types of drugs that can aid in brain functionality. Some medications can slow the disease’s process down depending on the stage of progress the effects will lasts for a limited time.
Changing the environment your loved one lives in can considerably increase their safety and well-being while decreasing their anxiousness. Be sure to inspect each room for hazards, like throw rugs, or under lit rooms. Home alterations for safety include removal of hazardous items that could be used to harm themselves, harmful chemicals. Utilize child-proof items like outlet covers. Door locks may also be used to limit access.
Meeting with a therapist can also be beneficial as your loved one struggles to accept, come to terms with, their new diagnosis. As their Alzheimer’s progresses, psychotherapy becomes less useful to the patient as cognitive deterioration occurs and the ability to express themselves is lost.
Alzheimer’s Patient Treatments
Each Alzheimer’s patient is going to be different depending on the progression of the disease. Different patients are going to have different symptoms. These are just some of the treatment options available for your loved one.