What is Alzheimer's Disease
If you have a loved one who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, then you likely have a list of questions. In this article, we’ll cover the finer points of what Alzheimer’s is and how you can help a loved one cope with the disease.
Alzheimer’s is caused when the brain cells begin to die. This damage cannot be reversed, which means that symptoms progressively get worse. For that reason, Alzheimer’s is considered a neurodegenerative disease. The symptoms are mild in the beginning, but in truth, there have already been plaques on the brain that went undetected until the damage began to cause symptoms. When symptoms begin, they continue to worsen in severity. Over time, Alzheimer’s patients almost always need full-time assistance when the symptoms become worse. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, and nearly 6 million Americans have it today. By 2050, that number is expected to double.
In order to be diagnosed, a patient must have experienced a notable decline in cognitive function. This includes behavioral and physical capacities. This change must cause deficits that weren’t present before, and the decline must interfere with daily activities.
What exactly can these symptoms include? Since the brain controls so much that goes on in the body, the list of possible symptoms is extensive. Some of these include the decreased ability to receive and retain new information. For instance, if someone asks questions over and over about the same thing, that could be a sign. Impairments in areas such as reasoning, completing complex tasks, and making judgment calls are noted. While the patient’s eye sight is normal, they might have difficulty with depth perception and other visuospatial concerns. Problems with speaking, reading, and writing are almost always noted, and changes in personality are commonly seen.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, as the damage to the brain is permanent and cannot be stopped. Research hopes to deliver a cure one day. For now, certain medications and therapies can help. Caregivers play a critical role in helping a loved one cope with their Alzheimer’s. Some of the things that can be done include keeping the patient as comfortable as possible and ensuring that they get plenty of rest. In addition, keeping a calm atmosphere has shown to be beneficial.
If you have a loved one who is showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the best thing to do is encourage them to go see a doctor.