Seniors' Health
Alzheimer's Disease: Definition, Treatment and Guidelines
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder. It was named (Alzheimer's) after German physician Alois Alzheimer, who was the first to diagnose it in 1906. Later, scientists of the past century managed to find out a lot of important facts related to the disease.
 
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
It is a progressive cerebral disease that destroys brain cells, causing serious disorders with the faculties of memory, thinking and behavior. Furthermore, it severely affects the patient's life and work, as well as his pattern of social life. As time passes, the patient's case deteriorates continuously, and often leads to his demise. Nowadays, Alzheimer's disease is ranked the sixth major reason for death around the world. It is an incurable disease at the present. However, its symptoms can be successfully cured. And by supporting the patients, they become able to adapt to the disease, and make their lives better.
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Stages of the Disease:
The disease develops gradually and the patient goes through the following five stages:
 
Stage 1: The Early Stage of the Disease:
At this stage, the symptoms don't appear; the person may not know that he is infected with Alzheimer’s disease only after conduction accurate and advanced examinations. This stage may take several years before discovering the disease.
 
Stage 2: Moderate Cognitive Decline:
The persons in this stage suffer from slight changes in the memory and thinking, without a clear effect on their life and relations. These changes may affect their ability to take the correct decision. The symptoms here are similar to those of other diseases; that’s why, the person might need to carry out more accurate examinations to determine the reason behind his suffering.
 
Stage 3: Mild Dementia Stage:
Alzheimer’s disease is occasionally diagnosed at its mild stage, when it becomes clear to the family and doctors that the person is having difficulties in the memory and thinking.
 
Symptoms appearing on the patient during this period include: 
  • Having problems with remembering the latest events. The person may face difficulty in remembering the recently acquired information and events.
  • Encountering difficulty in solving problems, performing complex tasks and taking the correct decision.
  • Experiencing personal changes; the patient may become quitter or introvert, especially during difficult social times or extreme and unfamiliar anger. He may be less interested and motivated to finish the tasks.
  • Facing difficulty in arranging or expressing thoughts, like finding the suitable words to describe things or expressing the views clearly.
 
Stage 4: Moderate Dementia Stage:
It includes more disorders in the memory and weakened cognitive functions. The patient needs assistance in his daily life and basic matters. This stage is characterized by the following:
 
  • The patient becomes unable to remember important details, such as his address, his phone number and other things.
  • He gets confused about dates and days.
  • He faces difficulty in solving arithmetic, like subtraction and others.
  • He needs assistance to pick his suitable clothes for each season or occasion.
  • He occasionally retrieves his basic information about himself, his name, children or spouse.
 
Stage 5: Severe Dementia Stage:
It is the stage of the severe cognitive decline, when the patient loses the ability to:
  • Communicate and interact with the community.
  • Care for his stuff, such as food, undressing and using toilet.
  • Lose control of his movement.
  • Lose the ability to control swallowing or excrement.
 
Diagnosis:
A physician usually collects information relating to the patient's medical\health history (either from him or his family).
 
The examinations include the following: 
  • Clinical tests to evaluate the neuromuscular situation
  • Laboratory tests
  • Tests to evaluate the mental condition
  • Brain imaging
 
Researchers are working to develop new diagnostic tools to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in a very early stage and before the appearance of the symptoms.
 
Treatment:
There is no medication for Alzheimer’s disease at the present; however, physicians prescribe medication to relieve its symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, emotional disturbances and depression. There are only two types of medications approved to relieve its severity, namely:
 
1- Cholinesterase inhibitors - including:Cholinesterase inhibitors - including:
   Donepezil (Aricept
  Rivastigmine (Exelon
  Galantamine (Razadyne
 
2- Mematine (Namenda):
It is the first drug certified for treating Alzheimer's, rather than relieving its symptoms. It regulates the activity of glutamate, another chemical transmitter located between learning and memory cells. This drug temporarily delays the worsening of symptoms.
 
Adapting to Alzheimer's disease:
Alzheimer's disease patient should adapt himself to the disease in order to render the treatment plan a success.
The patient may follow some steps to live with Alzheimer’s disease, such as: 
  • Keeping keys, wallets, mobile phones and other valuable things in the same place at the house, so that they will not be forgotten.
  • Taking medicines on time, preferably once a day, or using an alarm clock.
  • Installing GPS software to the mobile phone to easily find the person in the event of getting lost.
  • Keeping phone numbers of families or relatives in an accessible place to help the patient in case of forgetfulness.
  • Using the calendar or white board to keep track of daily schedule.
  • Taking care of the house and reducing the mess as much as possible.
  • It is important for the patient to have the family and friends around him.
  • Unchanging the regular routine to help the patient communicate away from confusion.
 
 
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Last Update 08 August 2017 09:48 AM
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