September 21st every year is World Alzheimer’s Day around the world. This is an international campaign aimed at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer's, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s.
Typical Alzheimer lesions start to develop in the brain already 10 to 20 years before the first symptoms (the pre-symptomatic phase of the disease). Only when the neuronal injury evolves and the cognitive reserve decreases, symptoms start to manifest.
Alzheimer's disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind *heart disease* and *cancer*, as a cause of death for older people.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, is an incurable degenerative disease. Neurons in certain parts of the brain are destroyed which leads to deficits in cognitive functions, such as memory, language skills, and behavior.
CAUSES/RISK FACTORS of Alzheimer's Disease
Although the main cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, But several factors are known to increase your risk of developing the condition.
Age is the single most significant factor. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease doubles every 5 years after you reach 65.
But it's not just older people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Around 1 in 20 people with the condition are under 65.
This is called early- or young-onset Alzheimer's disease and it can affect people from around the age of 40.
The genes you inherit from your parents can contribute to your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Studies has shown that being a woman increases your chance of developing Alzheimer's disease.
People with Down's syndrome are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
This is because the genetic fault that causes Down's syndrome can also cause amyloid plaques to build up in the brain over time, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease in some people.
People who have had a severe head injury may be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Research shows that several lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
◻️high blood pressure
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
1. Reduced ability to take in and remember new information, which can lead, for example, to:
▶️repetitive questions or conversations
▶️misplacing personal belongings
▶️forgetting events or appointments
▶️getting lost on a familiar route
2. Impairments to reasoning, complex tasking, and exercising judgment, for example:
▶️poor understanding of safety risks
▶️inability to manage finances
▶️poor decision-making ability
▶️inability to plan complex or sequential activities
3. Impaired visuospatial abilities that are not, for example, due to eye sight problems. These could be:
▶️inability to recognize faces or common objects or to find objects in direct view
▶️inability to use simple tools, for example, to orient clothing to the body
4. Impaired speaking, reading and writing, for example: difficulty thinking of common words while speaking, hesitations, speech, spelling, and writing errors
5. Changes in personality and behavior, for example:
▶️out-of-character mood changes, including agitation, apathy, social withdrawal or a lack of interest, motivation, or initiative
▶️loss of empathy
▶️compulsive, obsessive, or socially unacceptable behavior
Complications of Alzheimer's Disease
Memory and language loss, impaired judgment, and other cognitive changes caused by Alzheimer's can complicate treatment for other health conditions. A person with Alzheimer's disease may not be able to:
▶️Communicate that he or she is experiencing pain — for example, from a dental problem
▶️Report symptoms of another illness
▶️Follow a prescribed treatment plan
▶️Notice or describe medication side effects
As Alzheimer's disease progresses to its last stages, brain changes begin to affect physical functions, such as swallowing, balance, and bowel and bladder control. These effects can increase vulnerability to additional health problems such as:
▶️Inhaling food or liquid into the lungs (aspiration)
▶️Pneumonia and other infections
▶️Malnutrition or dehydration
Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease
As the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, there's no certain way to prevent the condition. But a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk. Examples include the following:
▶️keeping alcohol to a minimum
▶️eating a healthy, balanced diet, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day
▶️exercising for at least 150 minutes every week by doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking), or as much as you're able to
▶️making sure your blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health tests
▶️if you have diabetes, make sure you keep to the diet and take your medication.
Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's. The death of brain cells cannot be reversed.
However, there are therapeutic interventions that can make it easier for people to live with the disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, the following are important elements of dementia care:
▶️effective management of any conditions occurring alongside the Alzheimer's
▶️activities and day-care programs
▶️involvement of support groups and services
No disease-modifying drugs are available for Alzheimer's disease, but some options may reduce the symptoms and help improve quality of life.
Cholinesterase inhibitors that are approved for symptomatic relief include:
A different kind of drug, memantine (Namenda), an NMDA receptor antagonist, may also be used, alone or in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor.
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Happy World Alzheimer's Day From All Of Us @ Just Ask Nurse