- by Dr Reginald Varadarajulu VSM
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- Oct 03 2017
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE and DEMENTIA
Dementia is a medical condition that hits the brain and its symptoms include: memory loss, confusion, problems with speech and language, anxiety, paranoia, personality changes, lack of initiative, and difficulty in learning new skills.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elder people.
The most striking symptom is memory loss, especially the loss of recently learned information. Other symptoms include a decline in the ability to learn, reason, make judgments, and communicate and carry out daily activities.
Alzheimer’s is a growing problem – 15% of people over age 65 are affected, and 40% of those over age 85. By 2050 the number of individuals with Alzheimer's disease in the United States is expected to be 13.8 million.
The length of the illness can vary from 3 to 20 years. The areas of the brain that control memory and thinking skills are affected first, but as the disease progresses, cells die in other parts of the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease shortens life, and people with AD are vulnerable to pneumonia, serious falls, infection and other related problems.
Difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
Dementia is a disease characterized by impairment in memory or in another area of thinking such as the ability to organize thoughts and reason and the ability to use language. These impairments are acute enough to cause a decline in the patient's usual level of functioning.
Many different diseases can cause dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause for dementia in the United States and in most countries in the world.
Certain genes increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but do not invariably cause Alzheimer's disease. Such one gene is the one that encodes apolipoprotein E (apoE).
Warning Signs and Symptoms
- Memory loss
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems with language
- Confusion about time and place
- Poor or decreased judgement
- Misplacing or hiding things
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Changes in personality
- Loss of initiative
- Cause of Alzheimer’s disease
- Till now the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known. The "amyloid cascade hypothesis" is the most widely conversed and researched hypothesis about the cause of Alzheimer's disease. The strongest data supporting the amyloid cascade hypothesis comes from the study of early-onset inherited (genetic) Alzheimer's disease. In all of these patients, the mutation leads to excess production of a specific form of a small protein fragment called ABeta (Aβ) in brain.
- Diagnosis and Treatment
- Symptoms caused by Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured, but medications are available that may slow the course of the illness. Medications are also available to appease problems with depression, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and sleep disturbances.
- The best treatment is loving care. The old saying, “to know someone, you must walk a mile in his or her shoes” applies to dementia care.
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