Our memories are often our most prized possessions. They remind us of lessons learned and a life well lived. Imagine the pain of losing them!
This is what exactly happens in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects neurological and cognitive functions and is the most common cause of dementia. It affects approximately 29.8 million people worldwide, as of 2015.
Alzheimer’s is a painful and debilitating condition. Therefore, it is important to watch out for the symptoms and signs to improve the quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease can have many varied signs. Alzheimer’s disease has a slow, insidious onset, so you have to be vigilant to the symptoms.
It starts off slowly and progresses until control of bodily functions is lost. The life expectancy of patients with Alzheimer’s ranges between 3–9 years.
Warning Signs: Alzheimer’s disease
The early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s are often vague.
The first characteristic sign of Alzheimer is an inability to remember recent events including forgetting names of objects, places, and people.
As the disease progresses, the memory impairment worsens along with the appearance of other signs of Alzheimer. Alzheimer’s shows the following symptoms:
Difficulty in planning or problem-solving:
Some people will notice that it is becoming harder for them to formulate and stick to plans and structured activity. There may be an associated difficulty in managing numbers.
Difficulty in performing familiar tasks:
A person may forget to perform routine tasks and activities such as to operate a stove, use tools, or other such signs of Alzheimer. Alzheimer’s can impair the ability to complete tasks that were once familiar.
A person may forget words, pronunciations, spellings, grammar, and another component of written and spoken language. There may difficulty holding or following a conversation and using the wrong words.
Social withdrawal is expected in the elderly to some extent, but drastically reduced social involvement is one of the warning signs of Alzheimer. Alzheimer’s disease can cause people to lose touch with social customs and activities.
Changes in personality and temperament:
A sudden change in a person’s behavior is a sign of many age-related disorders, including Alzheimer’s. The patient may become paranoid, distrustful, reclusive, depressed, or anxious. There may be psychotic symptoms as well such as hallucinations (sensory perception of things that are not there) and delusions (believing things that are strange or untrue regardless of evidence to the contrary).
Disorientation in time and place:
People with Alzheimer’s disease may lose track of time, day, date, and their location. They may not be able to remember where they are, what day or time it is, what season it is, etc.
The trouble with vision and space:
There may difficulty focusing vision on a task, differentiating colors, estimating distance, and other tasks that require visual and spatial cognition.
People with Alzheimer’s often forget where they’ve placed things and are unable to retrace their steps.
Impaired judgment and reduced self-care:
There may be a decline in grooming activities along with poor judgment that can cause them to make bad decisions.
These signs of Alzheimer and symptoms are present in the early and intermediate stages of the disease. As the condition progressively worsens, the signs of Alzheimer and symptoms worsen as well.
In late stages of Alzheimer’s, the person may lose all ability to communicate and care for themselves. They may experience loss of bowel and bladder control, weight loss, hypersomnia, seizures, and recurrent infections.
Alzheimer’s can be managed with early detection. The course of the disease is relentless but can be slowed down considerably with proper management. Being attentive to the appearance of the associated signs of Alzheimer is important. Alzheimer’s has symptoms that can be vague, so a thorough examination is required by a medical specialist. They will help rule out other similar conditions and make a clear diagnosis so treatment can be initiated.
Treatment and Prognosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
As mentioned before, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. The symptoms can only be managed to a certain extent, and the progression of the condition can be slowed down, but inevitably the disease takes over.
However, this shouldn’t cause you to lose hope. People with Alzheimer’s can continue to live their lives fully, with the correct care and management.
Psychological therapy may be beneficial as this can handle the psychiatric symptoms and provide emotional support. Medication may alleviate some of the symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy helps to keep the patient active and engaged in their daily lives.
Regular check-ups and assessments are important.
On average, most people with Alzheimer’s live 8 to 10 years beyond the time of diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s disease can be terrifying for both the patient and their caregivers. Early detection helps to ease the pain and burden of this disease.