Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that gradually deteriorates a person’s memory, thinking skills, and, ultimately, capacity to carry out even the most basic of duties. Later in life, the majority of Alzheimer’s patients experience the onset of their disease’s symptoms. Various estimates show that more than 6 million Americans, the majority of whom are 65 or older, may have dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people in the United States. It is also the seventh leading cause of death in the country. A person is said to have dementia when they experience a decline in their cognitive functioning, thinking, remembering, deductive reasoning, and behavioral abilities to the point that it disrupts their day-to-day life and activities. There are different stages of dementia, ranging from the mildest stage, in which the disease is just beginning to impede a person’s functioning, to the most severe degree, in which the person must fully rely on the assistance of others for even the most fundamental aspects of day-to-day life.
Dementia can have a variety of causes, depending on the types of brain changes that occur concurrently.
What We Know
The name “Alzheimer’s” comes from Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Dr. Alzheimer discovered alterations in a woman’s brain tissue in 1906 after she had passed away from an uncommon mental ailment. Memory loss, linguistic difficulties, and unpredictable conduct were some of her symptoms. He examined her brain after she passed away and discovered several aberrant aggregates (now known as amyloid plaques) and twisted fiber bundles (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).
How does Alzheimer’s disease affect the brain?
The complicated brain alterations associated with Alzheimer’s disease are still being fully understood by scientists. Before symptoms start to show, changes in the brain may start ten years or earlier. The brain is undergoing harmful alterations at this extremely early stage of Alzheimer’s, including aberrant protein buildups that result in amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Formerly healthy neurons stop working, lose their connections to neurons, and eventually die. Alzheimer’s disease is also thought to be influenced by a variety of additional complex brain alterations.
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
· Loss of memory disrupting routine life.
· Poor decisions that lead to poor outcomes.
· Damage of spontaneity and sensory organs.
· Losing track of dates or knowing the current location.
· Taking too much time to complete routine tasks.
· Repetition of questions or overlooking newly learned information.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
There are five stages associated with Alzheimer’s disease:
Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
The process that eventually leads to Alzheimer’s starts several years before any symptoms appear. Preclinical Alzheimer’s is the term for this stage, which is typically only recognized in research settings. In this stage, neither you nor anyone nearby will notice any symptoms.
Mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease
Persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) experience memory or thinking issues more frequently than people of the same age. MCI’s symptoms are not as severe as those of dementias like Alzheimer’s or others that are related to it. Most MCI sufferers are capable of taking care of themselves and engaging in regular activities.
Mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease
People who are suffering from moderate dementia may have recent event memory loss. People may struggle to retain recently acquired knowledge in particular and repeatedly ask the same question. difficulty with complex activities, solid judgment, and problem-solving.
Moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease
This stage of the disease involves brain damage to the regions responsible for language, cognition, conscious thought, and sensory processing, including the capacity to recognize sounds and scents. As disorientation and memory loss worsens, it gets harder for people to identify their loved ones. They might not be able to adapt to new circumstances, learn new things, or perform complex chores like getting dressed. Additionally, those who are at this stage may act impulsively and experience hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
Severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease
Plaques and tangles eventually cover the entire brain, and the brain’s tissue begins to dramatically diminish. People who have advanced Alzheimer’s disease are fully dependent on others for daily care and are unable to communicate. As the body slows down at the end of life, the individual may spend most of the time in bed.
Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure; however, some drugs can momentarily prevent the symptoms of dementia from getting worse. Behavioral symptoms can also be helped by drugs and other treatments. It may be feasible to retain everyday functioning for a while by starting Alzheimer’s treatment as soon as possible. Current treatments, however, cannot halt or reverse AD. Treatment is extremely customized because AD has varied effects on each individual. To choose the most effective course of therapy, medical professionals consult with Alzheimer’s patients and the individuals who care for them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of drugs to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- Donepezil (Aricept®)
- Rivastigmine (Exelon®)
- Galantamine (Razadyne®)
- NMDA antagonists
Memantine (Namenda®) is approved for treating moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It helps keep certain brain cells healthier.
What We’re Still Learning
The buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain known as plaques and tangles is the cause of these and other devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. To date, efforts to slow the buildup of these proteins in the brain have been the main focus of Alzheimer’s research. But the success of these initiatives has been modest. Additionally, because it is simpler to investigate, the majority of Alzheimer’s research has concentrated on extremely rare types of illness that may be related to a single gene mutation. However, there is no single, well-defined cause for the majority of Alzheimer’s cases. Instead, a complicated interaction between several genes, the environment, and natural aging is probably to blame. With some early breakthroughs that offer promise for the future of treating this disease, ongoing research on Alzheimer’s is being conducted at the Harrington Discovery Institute at university hospitals.
• Increasing blood flow to the brain may improve memory
• Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
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