Alzheimer’s is an incurable form of dementia. It is tough for families to adapt. It is not easy seeing your love one go from being totally independent to now not being able to live alone because they have memory issues. It is a disease common in elderly people, but it is not normal. Everyone undergoes memory loss at some point in time. For most people, as you age you tend to forget a little bit more. Memory loss is not a problem until your daily functions are disrupted. Alzheimer’s falls under the category of dementia. Although there is no cure, there are ways to you and your family to get help with adapting to the disease.
Dementia is a general term that describes any thinking or social impairment that interferes with your daily life. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. 60-80% of all dementia patients have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common form of dementia. It is a more aggressive form of dementia that destroys brain activity. Memory and thinking skills slowly dwindle down, and it becomes difficult to do a simple task like tying your shoe or brushing your teeth. Nearly 5 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death and third leading cause in elderly.
How Does It Happen?
Alzheimer’s is a result of changes in the brain tissue. The brain is crucial for cognitive skills, reasoning, thinking, and remembering. Any damage to parts of the brain will disrupt those core competencies. Alzheimer’s is not a result of brain trauma but a result of plaques that physicians call amyloid plaques as well as fiber bundles. These plaques and bundles build up in the brain and start to disrupt neuronal function. The neurons are nerve cells necessary for brain activity. When these nerve cells become disconnected, they die and are unable to be restored. The brain then begins to shrink as a result.
Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s
The risk factors for Alzheimer’s are uncontrollable. The three main risk factors include age, genetics, and family history. We all age. Most people want to live a long life. Aging is just a fact of life. As you age, things begin to break down, and naturally, the brain may not function like it used to. At 65, 1 out of 9 people has Alzheimer’s and those rates go up to 1 out of 3 by the age of 85. Although we may want to at times, we cannot choose who our families are. If Alzheimer’s disease runs in the family, your chances of having the disease are greater. The more family members that have the disease, the greater your risk. Genetic predetermine a lot of illnesses. There are genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The genes fall into the category of risk genes as well as deterministic genes. Risk genes just show that you will have a greater risk of having the disease. Deterministic genes are a direct cause of the disease. Having this specific set of genes puts you at greater risk for Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms For Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s has its stages. It goes from mild to severe. Symptoms usually start with noticing greater memory loss. You may also have a decrease in cognitive abilities. You tend to get lost easily and misplace things quicker. Confusion is also common. Learning becomes extremely difficult and nearly impossible. As the disease progresses, things get worse. Language is now affected. It is hard for you to speak and process your words as a whole. You do not reason well or think clearly. The memory loss begins to worsen, and now daily function is affected. In the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, people need help getting dressed. They may begin to have hallucinations and become delusional. By the time Alzheimer’s disease gets severe, names are totally forgotten, and the person is no longer mobile. They no longer communicate and as the brain decays, the body deteriorates until it finally stops altogether.
Dealing with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s outcomes are not good. It eventually ends in death from lack of brain function. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and treatment is minimal. Right now, strategies are done to help improve brain function. Doctors stick to managing behavior issues and controlling the symptoms. There is also help for families. There resources that help family members cope with the disease and prepare them for the stages of the disease. Understanding what is going to happen never really prepares you for the disease progression but it does take away the anxiety of not knowing what to do.
Alzheimer’s is a terrible brain disease. It does not only affect the person with the disease but the family associated with that person. The progression of the disease is difficult to watch. Your loved one can become mean and forget who you are. It may be hard, but this should not be taken personally. As the plaques and tangles in the brain build up, brain function continues to decrease. Scientists are looking for a cure but currently have not found one. The best thing to do is get educated about the disease. Through education, you will be able to cope better and be a better support for that person with Alzheimer’s disease.
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