Alzheimer's Health Information & Treatment Guide
Today's Date is . . . Alzheimer’s is a neuro degenerative disease consisting of an ongoing and progressive loss of brain function. Alzheimer's disease is the 7th leading cause of death! The areas of the brain targeted first by the disease are associated with memory, so first observable health symptoms are usually mild forms of early memory loss.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of the more general condition known as dementia. Like Alzheimer's, Dementia is a common medical term used to describe progressive damage to the areas of the brain which control memory or other cognitive functions.
The earliest stages of Alzheimer’s all involve symptoms associated with memory loss. Affected individuals often have a hard time remembering what day or month it is. They may find themselves losing items more frequently than normal, forgetting recent events or confused and disoriented in familiar environments. Normally, old memories are unaffected in these earlier stages. An affected person will recognize old friends and family, but may not have any clear memory of recent interactions with them.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the affected person often begins exhibiting difficult behavior. They often become paranoid, quick to anger, overreact to minor things, suffer from hallucinations, and can even become violent. These behaviors are seen even in individuals that were shy, timid, or passive people prior to developing the disease. Someone in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s will usually begin to lose motor control and will need help dressing and performing everyday personal hygiene functions. They often also lose the ability to speak clearly, read or write. At this stage in the disease, even older memories become affected, and afflicted people may not recognize family members or life long friends at times.
In the later and final stages of the disease, individuals usually have complete memory loss and will recognize no one. They will be unable to communicate, walk, participate in personal care activities, or even eat on their own. As a result, sufferers in these late stages usually are incontinent and begin to lose a lot of weight. They often spend most of their time sleeping, and frequently suffer from seizures. Alzheimer’s will eventually lead to death due to loss of brain function.
While there are no known cures for Alzheimer’s, there are some treatments available that can slow the health condition down, and a promising array of new treatments on the horizon. Our increased understanding of biology and the human genetic code have many scientists hopeful for effective preventive measures and possibly even cures in the near future. Already, there are results from a number of recent studies that suggest that certain life behaviors, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. Installing exercise facilities at your home can help with Alzheimer and other disease prevention. For example, we recommend daily swimming exercise using exercise hot tubs which can be conveniently located in your back-yard.
It starts with minor memory lapses, like getting people’s names confused or forgetting where you put your car keys (or to an extreme, even where you parked the car on the street). At this stage, it’s nothing more than an old running joke that other family members get a laugh out of during get-together's. But then, as time goes, it begins to affect other aspects of your life, including work, and disrupts daily routine. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself wondering how to flush the toilet, figuring out what the switch on the wall is for, and countless menial tasks that you used to take for granted. Or, you’d wake up one morning and find that you can’t see anything. You forgot to open it. You forgot how to.
The disorder is called Alzheimer’s disease, and it affects millions (4.5, according to the most recent study) of people over the age of 65. Scientifically speaking, Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. The disease starts to manifest its symptoms after the age of 60. The older a person gets, the worse the symptoms become.
During the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language are affected. At this moment, scientists have yet to discover what triggers Alzheimer’s disease and the cure, but countless research is being done and have been successful in helping patients with this condition cope. Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-Day.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Got Its Name
Alzheimer’s disease was first discovered in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer (hence, the name). Dr. Alzheimer had a woman patient who died of an unusual mental illness. While studying her condition, the doctor noticed changes in the patient’s brain tissue, such as abnormal clumps (known as amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (called neurofibrillary tangles). Years later, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered as common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other signs of Alzheimer’s disease that later scientists discovered include dead nerve cells in the memory and cognitive areas of the brain, disrupted connections between nerve cells, and low levels of neuro chemicals, all of which result in impaired thinking and memory.
As mentioned, there is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, what treatment options are available do not guarantee a halt in alzheimer's disease progression. How fast or how slow alzheimer's progresses varies from patient to patient, but the average is that patients with Alzheimer’s disease generally live from eight to ten years after they are diagnosed. If, however, the patient is diagnosed in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the drugs like tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine may help prevent some of the symptoms from becoming worse.
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