Alzheimer’s Disease is typically considered an age related disease. As someone ages, some short-term memory loss can be expected. Not everyone with short-term memory loss will develop Alzheimer’s Disease and unless other symptoms develop, your doctor will not be concerned about it.
Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressing condition. Over time, the disorder changes and claims more and more of a person’s ability to thrive. Many people who have witnessed the progression of the disease refer to it as watching someone age backwards. This is because the disease slowly claims the basic ability of a person to function, and eventually claims their ability to perform life sustaining actions.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease loses the ability to thrive in life and eventually dies from internal system failure.
Your doctor will become concerned about the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease if you have the following symptoms.
Usually, the family of an affected person notices that something isn’t right first. Over time, the affected person begins to realize that something isn’t right.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease
A person with mild Alzheimer’s disease may have little to no symptoms.
Mild symptoms include
These symptoms may not always be present. These are classified as symptoms that come and go. Usually, they are worse in situations the person is unfamiliar with.
During this stage, the affected person may have a type of memory loss referred to as mild cognitive impairment. People who have mild cognitive impairment or other type of dementia are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is not definitive that all patients with MCI will develop dementia.
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
Moderate Alzheimer’s disease is typically when family and friends are certain that something is not right with their loved one. It is also the stage where families are no longer in denial about the disorder.
Moderate symptoms include
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
People with severe Alzheimer’s Disease typically require around the clock care. This is because the severe symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease involve losing the ability to perform tasks necessary to sustain life.
Severe symptoms include
It is not uncommon for these symptoms to be present in other disorders. There are many disorders that carry these exact symptoms and possible misdiagnosis is possible and happens frequently.
Alzheimer’s disease usually occurs in older adults, and age is a major cause of the condition. Experts understand that certain changes to the brain which occur as we age can contribute to the damage seen in brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
However, it is also believed that genetics contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. With late-onset Alzheimer’s, which tends to occur in individuals in their mid-60s, scientists have identified genes which can increase or decrease the risk of an individual developing Alzheimer’s. With early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can occur in individuals as young as the mid-30s, the disease has a clear hereditary factor; those with a parent who had early-onset Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop it themselves.
Health, lifestyle and environmental factors may also play roles in the cause of Alzheimer’s. It is believed that there is a relationship between dementia and conditions related to the vascular system, such as stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease, and conditions related to the metabolism, such as obesity and diabetes.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease depends on a person’s symptoms, and is different from person to person. There is no cookie-cutter treatment for the disease.
Treatment is determined based on the following criteria
After these questions are answered, the doctor will begin creating a care plan for the patient. Regular check-ups, medications to help treat symptoms, and assistance that will allow the patient to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
The majority of treatment focused toward Alzheimer’s disease is symptom management. Since there is no cure, doctors try to manage symptoms and control the most troubling parts of the disease as long as possible. However, with current medical restrictions, doctors are limited in the care they can give.
Over time, it may become necessary for the patient to live in an assisted living center where qualified personnel can care for them around the clock.
There is still a great deal of research to be done to fully understand how we can reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, it is understood that physical exercise could help to prevent the disease because it works to increase blood flow and oxygen throughout the brain, which could help to reduce the age-related changes that occur in the brain. Furthermore, since Alzheimer’s has been linked with vascular disease, exercise might also help to alleviate the risk of conditions such as stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure which could further stave off the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Experts also believe that a healthy diet could help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There is no single diet which is deemed the most effective, but two which might be beneficial are the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet.