Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impairs memory and other vital mental functions. Alzheimer’s is known to be the most common cause of dementia which leads to loss of social and intellectual skills. In the early stages of the disease, memory loss is mild. In severe cases, the patient may even lose the ability to respond to the environment or even hold a conversation.
CAUSES OF ALZHEIMER’S
Less than 5% of the occurrences, Alzheimer disease is caused by certain genetic changes that may lead to development of the disease. There are also two types of abnormalities which cause loss of memory; plaques and tangles. Plaques are clumps of protein that destroy and damage cell to cell communication. On the other hand, tangles interfere with the transport of nutrients and other essential materials in the brain, thus leading to death of brain cells.
There are two types of drugs that can be used to treat cognitive symptoms of memory loss.
- Memantine: this drug works by improving brain cell network and communication. It also slows the progression of the Alzheimer’s symptoms from moderate to severe.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: these drugs works by enhancing brain cells communication chemical which might be depleted by the Alzheimer’s disease. Less than a half of the patients who use these drugs can expect to have any improvement. The common prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors include galantamine, rivastigmine and donepezil. However cholinesterase inhibitors are associated with side effects such as sleep disturbances, diarrhea and nausea.
CREATION OF SUPPORTIVE AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT
Loss of short term memory can be reduced by converting the living condition to the needs of Alzheimer’s patient. Some of the strategies that can be used to assist patients are removal of excess clutter and furniture, reduction of the number of mirrors and installing sturdy handrails in bathrooms and stairways, among others.
Exercise is important for the wellness of those with Alzheimer’s. Non-sedentary activities such as walking and biking maintain health, improves mood, brain health and prevents cognitive decline. However, it is advisable for the persons with Alzheimer’s to carry identification if he or she walks unaccompanied. Alzheimer’s people with walking disability may participate in chair exercises or use stationary bike.
Since people with Alzheimer’s may forget to drink or eat , it is important to offer them with high calorie smoothies, healthy shakes, omega 3 fatty acids, juice, water, and nutritious beverages. These diets would improve their heart and cognitive health. Caring for the people with Alzheimer’s can help them to cope with the condition by providing support, listening to them and reassuring them that everything would be fine. Stable and calm home environment t is necessary in reducing behavior problems. Patients should be given emotional and physical support in order to improve patients’ cognitive health.
The disease mostly affects people over 60 years of age. In 2006, there were 26.6 patients globally. It is predicted to affect 1 out of 85 people worldwide by 2050. This condition may cause steady decline in mental and memory functions. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but management and medication strategies can be used to temporarily improve symptoms.