Photo by Cheryl Winn Boujnida – Unsplash
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and other important mental functions. There is no cure, and can only be diagnosed in definite terms after death.
It is estimated that about 5.5 million Americans around 65 or older may have dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s. According to the National Institute on Aging, it is ranked 6th as the leading cause of death in the US, and 3rd among older people.
The first sign typically is memory loss that can vary from person to person. Some have a mild impairment (MCI) and have more memory problems than others, but the symptoms do not affect their daily lives. The elderly with MCI are more at risk of getting Alzheimer’s, but not all do. Some go back to having normal cognitive abilities.
Stages Of Alzheimer’s’ Disease
In the mild stage, people are often diagnosed. They can walk off from their home and get lost, have trouble with money and paying their bills, will ask repeated questions, become forgetful in trying to complete normal daily tasks, there will be personality and behavior changes.
In the moderate stage, there can be damage in areas of the brain that control, reasoning, language, sensory processing, and thoughts. Confusion and memory loss gets worse, where they don’t recognize family and friends. Daily activities become harder to do, including getting dressed. They might start having delusions and paranoia and can behave impulsively like a small child and be hard to deal with.
In the severe stage, they can no longer communicate and are totally dependent on others caring for them. The body usually shuts down, and so they could spend most of their time bedridden.
Possible Causes And Need For More Research
It is not really known what causes Alzheimer’s. It could be a genetic mutation. It could also be a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle changes since it progresses and the brain changes over the years. Since it varies from person to person, it makes it even more questionable.
Scientists are studying more on the plaques and tangles (bundles of fiber) in the brain and how they can affect the disease. There is also research where scientists are exploring ways to delay or prevent the disease as well and treat its symptoms.
Having a healthy diet, regular exercise, being social, and doing such things as puzzles and mind stimulating activities can all be associated with helping people stay healthy as they age, but with such a complex disease, it is going to take more research to find a cure, but by getting diagnosed early you could get in clinical trials, and get your affairs in order.
Sadly Watching Your Loved One Become A Human Shell
My grandmother starting having symptoms I think when she was around her late 70’s. I remember having to repeat myself when we would visit her or she would write letters, repeating herself. My mom passed away when she was almost 80.
When we went to the gravesite, she was at the point she really didn’t recognize us anymore, but you could tell she remembered my mom and showed emotion. We had family gatherings and she would be really stubborn and if she didn’t want to do something she would throw a fit like a small child.
Finally, she had to be put in a nursing home, as my cousin could no longer care for her. She stayed there until she passed in her early 90’s. They said she was physically healthy with a very strong heart.
This is a very sad disease, because you see the person you loved and knew, die before your eyes, and they become this human shell with all the life and spirit gone. Hopefully, the cure is right around the corner, so families in the future won’t have to endure the pain and suffering that goes along with this disease.
Have you had a family member that had or has Dementia or Alzheimer’s? At what age was it diagnosed? Below are some books that might be helpful with ways to support and help your loved one.
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