Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition, one of the most common forms of dementia, or “senile dementia”. Most often, Alzheimer’s disease develops in people over 50 years, although there are cases when the disease was diagnosed in a younger age. The disease is named after a German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, who made the first description of this condition in 1907.
Today, Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in 46 million people around the world. Unfortunately, according to scientists’ predictions, this figure may triple in the next 30 years. The causes of Alzheimer’s disease have not been established, as well as no effective drug has been invented to cure it. Symptomatic therapy for Alzheimer’s disease can only mitigate its manifestations and slow down the disease progression.
Why does Alzheimer’s disease develop?
Alzheimer’s disease causes the breakdown of the neural pathways in the brain. This happens due to the deposit of “senile plaques” (protein elements) and the appearing of the so-called neurofibrillar glomeruli (formed of damaged nerve cells). While it is still not clear why exactly this happens, in recent years, scientists have identified certain genes that are responsible for person’s predisposition to Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, it was established that the disease is more often observed in unskilled or poorly-educated people. A highly-literate and educated person is less likely to develop the disease, since he or she has more connections between the nerve cells in the brain. That’s why, even when some cells die, the brain keeps functioning properly with the help of other cells.
What happens to the patient?
The disease begins with minor memory disturbances. However, an early stage runs without any obvious manifestations, because the patient tries to hide the signs of unusual forgetfulness. Nonetheless, the increasing memory loss causes a feeling of confusion, misunderstanding, bewilderment. Gradually, the person ceases to navigate in space and time. As the condition develops, the patients forgets events, skill, experiences. First, they forget what happened recently. Then, events of long-term memory fall out.
Later stages of Alzheimer’s cause difficulty or complete inability to recognize faces and distinguish colors, disorientation. The speech becomes more and more incomprehensible.
Some factors can aggravate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They are:
- foreign unfamiliar places;
- staying alone for a long time;
- meetings a lot of strangers;
- darkness (even at night);
- infectious diseases;
- hot weather;
- simultaneous administration of many medicines.
If your elderly relative shows any signs stated above, do not waste time. It is recommended to take an examination by a neuropathologist as soon as possible. Although the disease is incurable, a timely treatment can significantly slow down its development.