Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurological disease which destroys the important brain functions including memory. The disease is commonly seen in people aged above 65 years.
Symptoms develop gradually and become severe over several years.
The exact cause of the disease is not known. It is believed that the cause of Alzheimer’s disease could be genetic factors, environmental and lifestyle changes which gradually affect the brain.
The disease causes the death or damage to the brain cells. The surviving cells have fewer inter-connections compared to those in the healthy brain. As the number of dead cells increase, the brain size starts to shrink.
Below are the factors which increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease
It is a challenging task for the doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. A timely diagnosis gives the best chance to receive better treatment and support. But there is no specific confirmatory test for Alzheimer’s disease.
The doctor considers your symptoms and the information you provide and performs the below tests to check if you have Alzheimer’s disease.
|Test||Purpose of the test|
|Physical examination and neurological health||To check your reflexes, balance, coordination, hearing, and vision, muscle strength and tone, etc|
|Lab tests||To exclude other conditions with similar symptoms, such as vitamin deficiency or thyroid problems|
|Brain imaging||To identify specific changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These studies include MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT scan (Computerized Tomography), PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and cerebrospinal fluid examination.|
There is no treatment available to cure Alzheimer’s disease. However, medications to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease are available.
Cholinesterase inhibitors: These drugs increase the communications between the surviving brain cells by producing the required chemical called acetylcholine. They can improve the symptoms such as agitation and depression. Most common drugs prescribed include donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine.
Memantine: It may be used either alone or in combination with the cholinesterase inhibitors to slow down the progression of the disease and symptoms.
SAntidepressants: These medications help to manage behavioral symptoms.
Home remedies may not cure the condition but help in maintaining better health during the treatment. So include the following in your wellness plan:
As the patient with Alzheimer’s disease has mixed emotions, coping with the disease may be difficult. Caretakers should provide support to such patients by listening to them, assuring them of betterment, protecting their dignity, keeping their surroundings calm and stable, etc.