Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia and a progressive neurological disorder that causes the destruction of brain cells. Symptoms appear slowly with age in this disease, which causes a decrease in thought, memory and behavioral functions. It may take years for the disease to progress to advanced stages.

The disease develops in the initial stage only with simple forgetfulness. As time goes by, the patient forgets recent events and does not recognize family members and friends. In the later stages of the disease, patients have difficulty in meeting their basic needs and become in need of care.

Social skills, behaviors, and rational thinking are also adversely affected over time. In advanced stages of Alzheimer’s patients often lose the ability to have a conversation with one person and begin to have difficulty in responding to questions and reacting to events around them.

Although the disease usually affects people aged 65 and older, it is diagnosed with younger people so it cannot be considered as a disease of elder people.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

Memory loss is the most important and first symptom of the disease. In early signs, Alzheimer’s patient forgets recent knowledge, people and events. As the disease progresses and memory impairments worsen, the person begins to forget more often and cannot remember this information.

Memory loss begins as simple memory impairment in the early stages of the disease. People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Lose keys
  • Forget the names
  • Neglect appointments, meetings
  • Forget to take remainder of money
  • Forget to turn off the cooker
  • Confuse way home and rooms
  • Confuse sugar with salt or vice versa
  • Hide the money and never find
  • Have difficulty daily life activities

In the later stages of the disease people with Alzheimer’s may include the following:

  • Difficulty in adapting to the environment
  • Losing themselves in well-known places
  • Problems with speech and language skills
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Low motivation and self-esteem
  • Development of personality disorders such as aggression, making unusual demands from family and friends, and doubting people
  • Denying events that the patient can’t remember
  • Anxiety and depression

Another important symptom of the disease is the deterioration of daily life activities. Most patients are unable to plan and complete daily tasks. They begin to have difficulty doing tasks such as cooking, choosing clothes or talking on the phone.

The patients lose skills. They are not to able to eat, play instruments, go to the toilet, knit and take a bath. They piss themselves at home.

Diagnosis and Tests

The doctor listens to the story of the patient from patient’s family member or friend. A screening test is performed to indicate the presence of dementia. The best-known screening test is the Mini-Mental State Exam. With this test, the patient is examined for time, space, learning, numerical processing, recall, naming, sentence writing, and visual memory.

The test aims to quantify deterioration in memory and other parts. Whether patients answer questions correctly and whether they follow the instructions correctly. It does not diagnose dementia, but it provides information on whether there is a cognitive decrease. Further tests are then performed by neuropsychologists.

Neuropsychological Tests: Psychologist performs detailed neuropsychological tests for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Neuropsychological tests consist of a number of tests that provide physical data on memory, daily life and behavior.

The psychologist chooses the test according to the patient’s education and mother tongue. Some tests can be completed in a very short time and provide easy results, while some tests require more time to learn more.

Neurophysiological investigations: They are very valuable in the differential diagnosis of some diseases. The most important neurophysiological examination is EEG (electroencephalography).

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible disease and there is no definitive treatment. Alzheimer’s medication includes healing the symptoms of the condition and the treatment of concomitant diseases.

Think of this care professionally. Social rehabilitation for patients in daycare centers, which are professional rehabilitation institutions, has significant benefits for the patient as well as their families.

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

The most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is genetic predisposition. Other factors; which are head traumas, long-term depression, chronic alcohol consumption, hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes, can increase the risk of disease.

To prevent Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Keep staying mentally and physically active
  • Keep away from the stressful lifestyle
  • Getting exercise regularly
  • Keep and control your blood pressure and sugar at a normal level
  • Increase your consumption of vegetables and fruits. Choose the Mediterranean diet
  • Take precautions against accidental head injuries by using seat belts and helmets
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Quit alcohol
  • Stop smoking

What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Stage 1: Normal (Pre-clinical)
Stage 2: Very Mild Disorder
Stage 3: Mild Disorder
Stage 4: Moderate Disorder
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Disorder
Stage 6: Severe Disorder
Stage 7: Very Severe Disorder

Stage 1: Normal (Pre-clinical)

There are no symptoms of the disease in this stage. The stage in which brain injury begins is called the preclinical period. However, the measurement of biomarkers can clearly indicate the existence of the disease.

Stage 2 and 3: Very Mild Disorder – Mild Disorder

Stage 2 begins with the complaint of forgetfulness noticed by the patient or its relative. In stage 3, the patient may experience loss in memory or in one of the non-memory areas (such as skills, language). However, the patient continues daily life without any problems. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear clearly during these stages.

Stage 4: Moderate Disorder

Mild forgetfulness begins with symptoms such as inability to remember words and not being able to learn new things, fatigue, staying away from social life, depression.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Disorder

The daily activities of the patient are perceptibly impaired. The patients are not able to cook, use forks and spoons, take off clothes, wear and disinfect the toilet and personal cleaning, and can not find the way to the house and the rooms inside the house.

Restlessness and anger, disappearances, impaired motor abilities, deterioration of social relations and paranoia are common in this stage.

Stage 6 and 7: Severe Disorder – Very Severe Disorder

It is characterized by being fully dependent for the patient’s life at this stage. Each patient has a patient caregiver. Physical problems are often experienced. Bladder and bowel control, speech impairment, hallucination, emotional impairment and loss of awareness could occur.

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