21st of September is known as Alzheimer’s Day and awareness about this disease is spread to everyone around the world. Though many may have heard the name of this disease, one may not know the causes and what leads to it.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible disease which is mainly found in the elderly, especially over 60. In this disease, the person’s brain functioning starts to degrade. That person loses his/her thinking skills, memory and then gradually, they are unable to carry out simple tasks.
According to research, it is ranked sixth in the top 10 causes of death in the elderly after cancer and heart diseases. This disease often leads to Dementia, which is a complete loss of normal brain functioning which includes- thinking, behavioural activities, reasoning, etc, which makes that person completely dependent on others for even the simplest daily tasks.
Scientists say that the disease starts to develop a decade or more before it starts showing symptoms. It happens when some abnormal deposits start or take over brain tissues which leads to the brain nerves to lose connection with each other. This then leads to the shrinking of the brain.
The very first symptom, though it varies from person to person, is memory loss, where the person starts to forget the usual things. Normally we do forget things like the location of the key, where you have parked the car and stuff. In Alzheimer’s, the person may even forget their name or faces of their closest relatives.
There are various stages of this disease:
- Mild Alzheimer’s Disease- In this stage the symptoms are very visible and can be diagnosed. The person experiences greater memory loss and cognitive difficulties which include wandering and getting lost, trouble handling money and paying bills, repeating questions, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, and personality and behaviour changes.
- Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease- Reaching this stage causes more confusing behaviour and changes in the person. They forget their closes relatives, are unable to change clothes themselves. Paranoia, anxiety, and delusions (also hallucinations) start taking place.
- Severe Alzheimer’s Disease- The brain shrinks significantly when the plague has taken over its place. The person gets confined to bed and slowly meets the end.
The causes of this disease are still unknown but scientists say that the causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. They also include the ageing of the brain as a contributing factor as this disease only comes to the people above the age of 60. They also blame other health factors such as obesity, heart-related problems and diabetes for the disease.
If this disease is diagnosed very early, the process can be slowed down, says doctors, though it cannot be reversed or treated as of now. Diagnosing includes various memory and brain activities and tests the person has to go through and the pieces of evidence by the person’s family in the sign of any unusual behaviour which can include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression.
When a person is suffering from this disease, there is a lot of factors that their family needs to care of. They now need to care of the patient emotionally, physically and includes lots of cost for the ‘slow down’ process or treatment. People usually appoint care services to take care of the person all the time and help them doing everything they are not capable of. These people also take care of the medicating times, meal and sleeping times and accompany them wherever they go.
This Alzheimer’s say lets spread awareness about this irreversible disease that can happen to anyone. All you can do to prevent this disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle in your youth days. Never let obesity take over you. Avoid junk food and drinks and replacing them with healthy food is kind of hard these days where you have little to no time taking care of what you intake, but for your future and health, you should.
If you are above 55 or someone in your relationship has crossed the age of 55, ask them to take the memory and brain functioning tests for precaution. As mentioned above, the symptoms start to show a decade after the plague starts to take over your brain, but slight changes are always visible.
-By Aamena Hussain