Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible neurological illness that weakens one’s memory and cognitive abilities. It is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. Dementia is indicated as a syndrome of continuous decline in social and behavioral skills that affects a person’s ability to perform basic tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder which begins from the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory. The neurons in the brain start to die and tissues shrink significantly, leading to brain atrophy.
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown but the disease is associated with several factors:
- Increasing Age
- Genetic changes or having a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- History of severe head injury.
- Presence of cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, hyperlipidaemia.
- Lifestyle choices such as smoking
Signs and Symptoms
Memory loss affecting daily life.
Commonly, patients repeat statements and forget conversations. Some do get lost in familiar places and routinely misplacing items.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial impressions.
Peoples having vision impairment is one of the signs of Alzheimer’s. They may also have difficulties judging distances.
Withdrawal from work or social activities.
Patient may withdraw from hobbies, daily routine, or other engagements.
Change in mood and personality.
An individual with Alzheimer’s may suffer personality and mood changes. They may be fearful, suspicious, or anxious.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
It is difficult for an individual to complete daily chores. They may have problems with the most familiar road or games.
To diagnose Alzheimer a physician may conduct the following examinations,
- Speak with the patient and family members about any observed changes in behaviour and personality.
- Direct tests of memory, counting, problem-solving, attention, and reflexes.
- Imaging such as Computed Tomography ( CT ) Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI ) can be performed to rule out other diseases.
- Amyloid PET imaging and Tau PET imaging can be used to measure the disease burden of these proteins in the brain.
The primary treatment for Alzheimer's is to create a safe and supportive environment for the patient to live in. Established daily routine tasks and reducing memory-intensive tasks will make life easier for the patients.
There is currently no definitive cure for Alzheimer’s Disease but a few medications can be used to reduce memory and cognitive symptoms.
Please consult your doctor before consuming any of these medications:
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors enhance levels of acetylcholine by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. The acetylcholine is a chemical mediator in the brain that help neurons in the central nervous system communicate. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can used in patients with early to late Alzheimer’s condition. Examples of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors include Donepezil, Galantamine, and Rivastigmine.
Memantine helps to reduce the abnormal activity in the brain and is commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s Disease. It can be used concurrently with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Anti depressants might be helpful to overcome the low mood associated with dementia.
Do consult your family doctor if you suspect your loved ones having dementia and early intervention helps.