Alzheimer’s Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Overview

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease. It causes brain cells to waste away and die. A person with Alzheimer’s disease will have severe memory lost and lose the ability to carry out daily tasks. As the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is typically seen in older adults.

Right now, scientist still don’t know the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease, but its symptoms can be managed temporarily by taking medications, making lifestyle changes, and participating in different programs and services.

It is reported by Alzheimer’s Disease International that nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia worldwide. And more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.

Causes

The exact causes to brain changes resulting from Alzheimer’s disease is not fully determined. It is likely that a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors affect the brain over time.

  • Genes

Those who have family members with Alzheimer’s disease are also more prone to develop it than others. However, the probability of developing the disease due to genetic changes is very low, only less than one percent of the time. Specific genes contained with two proteins–plaques and tangles, may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Metabolic conditions

A 2010 study published in the medical journal Neurology suggested increase the risk of developing plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Aging

According to statistics,13% of individuals over age 65 have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. As one ages, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s increases.

  • Head injury

Sustaining a head injury or concussion are linked with increased risks.

  • Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure increase the possibilities of developing Alzheimer’s increases.

  • Lifestyles

Unhealthy lifestyles, such as unbalanced diet, lack of exercise and mental activity, smoking, and drinking alcohol, will also lead to Alzheimer’s increases.

Symptoms

The progression of Alzheimer’s disease typically follows a similar pattern of three main stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

Early Stage

  • Lack of energy and motivations to do things
  • Lack of interest in work and social activities
  • Loss of recent memories
  • Language problems
  • Mild coordination problems
  • Trouble with everyday tasks
  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Difficulty organizing an activity

Middle Stage

  • Rambling speech
  • A hard time planning or solving problems
  • Confusion about time or place.
  • Not dressing for the weather
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Loss of long-term memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Wandering
  • Delusions

Late Stage

  • Major confusion about the past and present things
  • Can’t express themselves, remember, or process information
  • Problems with expressing and processing information
  • Problems with carry out daily activities required normal physical functioning
  • Weight loss, seizures, skin infections, and other illnesses
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Hallucinations

Diagnosis

Doctors use a combination of methods to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. They usually follow these steps:

  • Look at the signs and symptoms with cognitive assessment
  • Take a medical history
  • Perform a physical and neurological exam
  • Perform laboratory tests, especially blood tests and urine tests
  • Conduct mental status and neuropsychological tests
  • Use brain scans, including MRI, CT and PET
  • Prescribe effective drugs, vitamins and supplements

Treatment

Drugs

There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are medicines that seem to slow down its progress, helping with mood changes and other behavior problems.

  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Sleep medications
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors.
  • Memantine (Namenda)
  • Tacrine (Cognex)

Creating a safe and supportive environment

You can take these steps to support a person’s sense of well-being and continued ability to function. Examples are given as follows:

  • Always keep keys, wallets, mobile phones and other valuables in the same place at home, so they don’t become lost.
  • Keep medications in a secure location.
  • Arrange for finances to be on automatic payment and automatic deposit.
  • Carry a mobile phone with location capability so that a caregiver can track its location.
  • Make sure regular appointments are on the same day at the same time.
  • Use a calendar or whiteboard in the home to track daily schedules.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.