Many older people forget someone’s name or forget about things they keep. This type of forgetfulness is common with ageing. But getting confused in well-known places or asking the same question again and again can signify a more serious issue. People dealing with these symptoms may have Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Alzheimer’s is a common neurodegenerative disorder (in which nervous system cells stop functioning or die). Among the elderly, leading to dementia (a decline in memory and thinking). The progressive disease slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, affecting their ability to do normal regular tasks.
The causes of dementia may vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may occur. This blog gives a glimpse into what a person with AD might experience as the disease progresses. The gradual decline in memory loss is frightening and frustrating for the person and his/her loved ones.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
Scientists still do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s symptoms. In people with early-onset Alzheimer’s, a genetic factor is usually linked. The late onset of the disease occurs from a complex series of brain changes that develop over decades. The causes may include a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors.
The mystery of Alzheimer’s
It is still not understood why Alzheimer’s disease affects some people and not others. Research took place worldwide to understand its causes and ways to diagnose, treat, prevent, and cure it. However, a research study found a protein called beta-amyloid which appears to be processed in the brains of Alzheimer-affected people. This contributes to the accumulation of protein plaques in the dying nerve tissue present in the brain. The build-up of plaques is also present in disease-free brains, but they appear in much greater numbers in people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, what led to this protein plaque formation in Alzheimer’s affected brain has yet to be determined.
Researchers are also exploring the early signs of memory loss in the disease process by analyzing certain brain changes and body fluids that can be identified years before Alzheimer’s short-term memory problems appear. Results obtained from these research studies help in understanding the causes of the disease and make ways for easy diagnosis. One of the great mysteries of this progressive brain disorder is why it largely strikes older adults. More search is going on to understand the way age-related changes affect neurons and lead to damage. These age-associated changes include the shrinking of certain parts of the brain production of free radicals, inflammation, and the breakdown of energy production within a cell.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease develops in people aged 30 to 60. Most cases are associated with inherited changes in one of three genes, leading to early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. For others, the brain condition appears to develop without any known cause, much like for individuals with late-onset disease. A lot of people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s. This may be because people with Down syndrome tend to have an extra copy of chromosome 21, which contains the genes that produce harmful amyloid proteins.
Environmental and lifestyle factors
According to research studies, several other factors beyond genetics may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or more commonly known as the forgetting disease. Research is still going on to understand whether and how reducing risk factors for conditions (such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity) may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. A combination of a balanced diet, physical activity, social involvement, and mentally stimulating activities helps people stay healthy as they age. These lifestyle habits also help reduce memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s. Researchers are learning more about these possibilities.
Doctors cannot stop the disease’s progression or reverse its brain damage. Caregivers can make patients’ last months or years more pleasant. The best Alzheimer’s disease treatment approach involves managing symptoms of dementia. Several oral medicines are formulated to help with these symptoms. Currently, numerous medications may help slow memory loss but not cure it.
Caring for Alzheimer’s affected individuals
Home care for Alzheimer’s patients may help them to manage the loss of mental and physical abilities. Most people with Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms are cared for at home. Caregivers must understand the progressive neurodegenerative disorder and get familiarised with its symptoms, complications, and treatment. Community sources, including support groups, adult day care services, and nursing homes, can help individuals deal with the present issues and plan for the future. Not everyone has easy access to resources to provide appropriate care for their loved ones at home. Some require immediate medical help as the disease reaches the final stages. Nursing home care facilities can be an option. However, they can be quite expensive. For this reason, families should know about the disease and visit facilities to determine the quality of care to meet the special requirements of Alzheimer’s patients.