Because we now live in an aging community, it is common to see people living well into their eighties and sometimes longer. As a result, Alzheimer’s disease will affect many more lives in the future. In fact, it is estimated that within twenty years, around thirty million people worldwide, will suffer from this sidious disease.
Because we now live in an aging community, it is common to see people living well into their eighties and sometimes longer. As a result, Alzheimer’s disease will affect many more lives in the future. In fact, it is estimated that within twenty years, around thirty million people worldwide, will suffer from this insidious disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative condition that affects the cerebral cortex of the brain and leads to the progressive death of nerve cells. This causes the sufferer to gradually lose their memory. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia making up more than half of dementia sufferers. Around twenty percent of people aged over sixty five experience dementia which is a term that describes many different diseases where people experience serious memory loss. While it normally affects people in their mid-sixties or later, it can also affect people as young as thirty. This is called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease may become lost in areas that are well known to them such as their local shopping centre. They also forget what things are called and often what those things are actually used for. These things are quite likely to be items that they have used every day during their life. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a shortage of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are the chemical that normally transmit messages to the brain controlling memory, speech and movement. In the early part of this condition, the person may be unable to remember things that happened only a short time ago yet can remember things that happened many years before. This is known as short-term memory loss. Because their long-term memory remains intact for quite some time, it is vital to share their memories. It can be helpful to have a photo album for the person and to go through the album with them, allowing them the time to recount the memories each photo invokes for them. As the disease progresses, the person with Alzheimer’s disease finds it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day activities like personal care and taking care of their nutritional needs. They may need assistance with cooking and may also need to be reminded to eat. Often, they may forget people’s names, including close family members. This often leads to angry outbursts. They also tend to become restless and suffer from insomnia. The person with Alzheimer’s can sometimes become so confused and forgetful that their resulting actions may put themselves or others at risk. This can be things like forgetting to switch off heaters or putting clothes or papers too near such appliances. They may also act inappropriately, behaving in ways that are totally out of character for them. A person who has always been very properly spoken and behaved may begin using vulgar language or stripping their clothes off in front of other people. In the later stages of the disease, the person may need 24 hour care and supervision as they lose their memory completely. Often by this time, they are weak and find it hard to walk as the part of the brain that controls muscles succumbs to the disease. One of the major risks at this stage is that of falls. It is important not to have loose mats, electrical cords, or any other loose items lying around the floor where the person may trip over them. The person may become wheelchair dependent or even bedridden. Dysphasia (difficulty in swallowing) becomes a problem and may make the person reluctant to eat, resulting in weight loss. They become incontinent and lose all control of both bladder and bowel. Often, families may provide care though others may prefer to admit the person to a nursing home where trained professionals are available to care for their loved one around the clock. Every person is different and this is also true for the sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. While some may experience certain losses early in the disease, others may suffer the same losses at a later stage of the disease. However, what is common to all is the gradual loss of memory and ability to function normally. While, in the final stages of the disease, the person may not recognize anyone, they still recognize the kindness of a soothing voice and a loving smile.