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WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S? Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia. It is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease causes a deterioration in the brain by destroying the nerve cells. Once the nerve cells begin to deteriorate it causes a reduction of responses to other nerve cells. The condition spreads out causing chemical interruptions, the transmission of impulses is slow, and finally tissues in the brain begin to get worse. In Alzheimer’s disease, nerve cells in the brain die gradually. This makes it increasingly difficult for your brain’s signals to be sent properly. There are 7 stages of Alzheimers
HOW YOU GET THE DISEASE? They still don’t know how the Alzheimer’s disease process begins, it seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before problems become evident. People who have relatives with Alzheimer’s have a higher risk than the general population for developing the disease. People who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimers disease are 3.5 times as likely to develop it. This strong tendency of Alzheimers disease to run in families is due, in part, to mutations in certain genes.
WHERE DOES ALZHEIMER’S AFFECT YOU INTHE BODY? Alzheimer’s affects the brain. Alzheimers causes neurons to die which causes the brain to shrink. This leads to a loss of functioning capabilities in almost all parts of brain, not just the ones that affect memory. This leads to the formation of clumps and tangles within the brain and eventually leads to death. When you have Alzheimer’s the cerebral cortex shrinks massively. The cerebral cortex is the outer surface of the brain and it is responsible for all intellectual functioning. The spaces in the folds of the brain (the sulci) are grossly enlarged. You cannot catch or spread Alzheimer’s
WHEN DO YOU GET ALZHEIMERS? Alzheimer’s disease can occur at any age, even as young as 40 years, but its occurrence is much more common as the years go by Early Alzheimers starts at 65 years of age or younger. Late Alzheimers starts after age 65 One in ten people over 65 years of age suffer from the disease, and over half the people over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. At first the symptoms are difficult to recognise. In the first 2 stages of Alzheimers you cannot recognise that you have it. Often it is difficult to pinpoint when the Alzheimer’s disease actually began in a person.
SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMERS Short term memory loss – forgetting recent events, names and places Difficulty performing familiar tasks Disorientation especially away from your normal surroundings Increasing problems with planning and managing Trouble with language Rapid, unpredictable mood swings Lack of motivation Changes in sleep and confusion about the time of day Reduced judgement e.g. being unaware of danger
7 STAGES OF ALZHEIMER’S Stage 1: Normal Stage 2: Normal aged forgetfulness Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s Stage 5: Moderate Alzheimer’s disease Stage 6: Moderately severe Alzheimers disease Stage 7: Severe Alzheimers disease
CURE AND TREATMENT FOR ALZHEIMER’S Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However there are several drugs that may be prescribed to help people with Alzheimer’s. They are not a cure, but can help with some of the symptoms of the disease. Drugs such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Reminyl) are used to treat symptoms in Alzheimers disease. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and antipsychotics are used to treat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, agitation, and the hallucinations and delusions that may occur in Alzheimers disease patients