Alzheimer’s is a condition that is typically elucidated as a phase where a person starts facing problems with remembrance, thinking and behaviour.
- Though Alzheimer's usually occurs in old age, mostly to people 65 and above, still there are chances of on-set of disease at a much lesser age
- It is a progressive disease in which slowly the patient begins to lose memory. Later, they may become incapable of carrying out conversation and be responsive to their surroundings. The life expectancy is also cut short with an average life span of 8 years once the signs are noticeable to others. However, the surviving years can vary from 4 to 20 years depending on the age it has conceived and the health conditions.
- It is also a cause for dementia that leads to memory loss and other cognitive abilities that drastically and negatively impact the daily lifestyle. Medically 60 to 80% of dementia cases are accountable to Alzheimer's disease.
- Though presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but research is still on. However, there are treatments to slow down the worsening of the mental state of the patient and enable the improvement of the lifestyle.
- Reduction in the ability to grasp new information, asking queries repeatedly, arranging things in a disorderly manner, forgetting important dates, events and timelines, getting lost or not finding the way at a known place
- Faltering in the ability to reasoning, tasking complex works, and exercising the power to decide leads to poor comprehension of various things, incapacity to handle financial matters, incapable of taking accurate decisions, inability to plan a schedule
- The visual abilities are also drastically affected due to Alzheimer’s disease
- There is a noticeable impact on the linguistic abilities of the patient. A patient might find it scuffling to follow a discussion or reiterating themselves
- Decrease in the ability to remember day, date or directions
- Inability to recognize known people or common household items or objects
- Changes in the personality traits that includes mood swings. Moreover the behaviour becomes socially unacceptable
There isn’t a specific test to detect Alzheimer's disease. Therefore the symptoms and medical history are analyzed before confirming the diagnosis.
- Doctors may take into consideration the patient’s neurological function by checking their balance, senses, and reflexes
- A blood or urine test, a CT or MRI scan of the brain, and screening for depression could be some of the other assessments
- Genetic tests can also be conducted to establish whether the symptoms of dementia are related to any inherited disorder such as Huntington's disease
- The doctor might also carry out cerebral or other memory tests, to assess the thinking and remembrance ability of the patient
- Genetic testing may be applicable in some cases. A gene called APOE-e4 invites Alzheimer’s disease in people over 55 years of age. Though unreliable in nature, this test could actual signify whether someone is on the verge of developing this disease.
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
The progression of Alzheimer's disease can be sub-categorized into three main stages:
- Presymptomatic which is before the symptoms appear
- Mild Cerebral disorder, when symptoms are mild
Furthermore, the Alzheimer's Association describes the stages of Alzheimer’s disease along perpetuity of a cerebral decline, based on the symptom’s harshness. A diagnosis does not usually become clear until stage four, described as "mild or early-stage Alzheimer's."
Alzheimer’s Disease versus Dementia
- Dementia is the common term that is vastly used to define a range of conditions that involve the loss of cerebral normal functioning.
- The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms start slowly and are most likely to incorporate a decline in the cerebral functioning and language ability.
- Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are the other forms of dementia and people can have more than one type of dementia.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The damage inevitably caused to the brain cells, unfortunately can’t be reversed. Notwithstanding, there are certain therapeutic properties that can still make the survival of the patient easy. Alzheimer’s disease care can be taken keeping in mind the following as suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- The emphatic and intrinsic management of any conditions in parallel with the disease
- Interactive session along with some day care activities
- Active participation of support communities and services
- Certain drugs can help induce a reversible action on the symptoms of the disease, thus improving the quality of the life.
- Drugs like Donepezil (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon), and Tacrine (Cognex) are renowned for giving a symptomatic relief to the patient or their Cholinesterase inhibitors. Memantine (Namenda), can also be used, singularly or in combination with any cholinesterase inhibitor.
- As the patient becomes less able to live his/her life independently, the dependency on quality of life care becomes critical.
Cost of Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
The following are the primary factors that determine the cost involved in treating Alzheimer’s Disease
- Hospital that patient chooses for his/her treatment (if required)
- Fees for the doctor/physician
- Cost of medicines
- Cost of tests and diagnostic procedures
- Cost of follow-up care