Exactly what causes this disease is unclear. However, the symptoms are well known so that people can take the appropriate and necessary steps to handle the situation.
The early symptoms include gradual memory loss. This makes it hard to perform day to day activities. Eventually it reaches the point when awareness of time and location becomes difficult. Some problems with speaking will occur. Over time, the symptoms are followed by difficulty in thinking.
Reasoning becomes hard and usage of other mental faculties is lost gradually. Mood swings happen more frequently. This eventually results in personality changes. They eventually forget how to drive or even to eat.
Control of bowel and bladder movements are also lost. Ability to communicate is also lost. In advanced stages, hallucinations will occur. Few patients live more than eight years after being diagnosed with the disease.
If these symptoms manifest, a medical specialist must be consulted. Memory loss alone is not indicative of the disease, as it afflicts elderly folks in general. A physical examination is done to rule out other potential ailments.
The patient’s medical history will be assessed. Studies have shown that people who suffer head injuries may be more susceptible to the illness. Other examinations include the blood and urine tests.
Brain scanning is also performed. The family medical history may be evaluated. People who have relatives afflicted with Parkinson’s disease or Down’s Syndrome may be more prone to the illness.
There is no cure, and the drugs available are only used to try and improve the brain’s ability to function. These include tacrine and donepezil hydrochloride.
Even if the medications are given early, it cannot totally prevent the disease from spreading. Other promising drugs and medication include estrogen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Aside from the medication, patients need to be adequately cared for. Losing control of their mental faculties means constant care will be necessary. From combing their hair to feeding, virtually every aspect of their lives must be looked over.
If the patient cannot be taken care of properly at home, the best alternative is a nursing home.
Caring isn’t just for the patient but the family or caregiver too. It is a very difficult job. Feelings of anger, depression and guilt may come up. For this reason, professional help may be necessary to cope with the situation.
Antioxidants like vitamin A and E may help delay the illness from occurring. But the fact is that there is no known way of preventing the disease from happening. It has been suggested that keeping the mind active may help. Among elderly people, keeping the mind busy and occupied may prove beneficial.
Besides keeping the mind active, exercise may also help. The links between diet and the illness hasn’t been fully established. However, a fit body and mind may develop stronger resistance to the disease.
There is a lot of research ongoing to determine the causes of Alzheimer’s. This may pave the way for uncovering the cure.
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