Alzheimer's disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German Neurologist who first discovered it. Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease which affects the behaviour, memory and cognitive ability of sufferers and is also considered to be a geriatric disease. It is a major cause of dementia which is the loss of memory and brain function.
There are no known causes of Alzheimer's, however it is characterised by the following;
- Formation of Neurofibrillary tangles and Amyloid plaques (which are proteins) in the brain,
- Death of brain cells, possibly as a result of the aforementioned point,
- Abnormalities in brain neurotransmitters.
It is believed that Alzheimer's disease occurs due to irreversible damage to brain neurones causing loss of function.
Scientists believe Alzheimer's is caused by a combination of factors, which include;
- Family History: it is suggested that people with family members who have had Alzheimer's have a higher risk of getting the disease themselves.
- Down's Syndrome: suffere's from Down's syndrome have been noticed to have a higher risk of getting ALzheimer's disease also.
- Whiplash and Head Injury
- Aluminium: exposure to aluminium is suggesed to increase ones risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
Signs and Symptoms
The general signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
- Memory loss; this is the major symptom of Alzheimer's; patients forget dates, events and even their location. This results in them having to ask the same questions repeatedly.
- Problems with speaking and writing; patients may lose their train of thought mid-conversation and not know how to continue speaking.
- Change in mood and personality; patients may become confused, suspicious, depressed and irritated for no reason.
- Routinely placing objects in odd places, such as placing a phone in the fridge.
- Lack of concentration; patients have trouble understanding, may withdraw form work and hobbies.
However, it must be noted that these signs and symptoms do not constitute conclusive evidence that one suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Anyone who has any of these symbols is strongly advised to see a doctor for proper diagnosis.
There are generally three stages of development of Alzheimer's disease; mild, moderate and severe. These can be subdivided into seven stages which range from no impairment to moderate cog nitive decline and severe cognitive decline.
As there is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, sufferers can be managed in the following ways;
- Memory aids; large clocks and notice boards can be used to help patients remember what to do and when to do it.
- Utility equipment; such as compartmented pill boxes and non-spill cups can also been used.
- Mobility aids and safety devices are recomended.
- Nursing care is the most important way of maintaining Alzheimer's patients as constant supervision and assistance will be needed as the disease develops.
- ↑ Alzheimer’s Association (2011). Alzheimers Disease. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_alzheimers_disease.asp.Last visited [29.11.2011]
- ↑ Alzheimer’s Disease International (2010) Early Symptoms http://www.alz.co.uk/alzheimers/symptoms.html. Last viewed [29.11.2011]
- ↑ National Health Service (2010) Alzheimer’s Disease- Symptoms. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Alzheimers-disease/Pages/Symptoms.aspx. Last viewed [29.11.2011]