What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Symptoms and Treatment
Alzheimer’s disease, one of the types of dementia popularly defined as dementia, occurs due to the death of brain cells that develop over time. Alzheimer’s, which causes a person’s cognitive functions to decrease, is one of the most common types of dementia in society. In the presence of Alzheimer’s, a neurological disease, loss of brain cells occurs. The brain shrinks and shrinks due to cell loss. Although the disease causes simple forgetfulness in the initial stages, as the disease progresses, the person gradually forgets the events of the recent past. Over time, a person becomes unable to recognize his immediate surroundings and family and has difficulty controlling his emotions and thoughts. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which is often seen after the age of 60, appear gradually. Therefore, the initial stage of the disease may not be noticed by the person himself or his close circle. However, the disease progresses day by day, causing the person to be unable to perform daily activities over time.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s, one of the common neurological diseases, is a type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive type of disease, is sometimes called a senile disease because it is often seen after the age of 60. Alzheimer’s occurs due to protein accumulation in the brain. The accumulation of beta amyloid protein, found in the tissue of nerve cells in the brain, increases over time. Due to protein accumulation, breaks occur in the connections between nerve cells in the brain. Nerve cells that cannot make connections begin to die. This situation causes the person’s mental functions to be negatively affected. Although it is not yet fully understood why Alzheimer’s disease occurs, it is thought to occur when brain cell loss occurs much earlier than expected. In other words, although the loss of brain cells with advancing age is considered normal, the cell loss that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease occurs much faster than expected. Mild and severe forgetfulness, which is among the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the initial phase, progresses over time and leads to impaired consciousness. In Alzheimer’s disease, where the person’s perception of time and space is also impaired, the act of forgetting starts from the person’s last experienced actions and progresses towards the past.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Although forgetfulness, which is among the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, is mild in the initial phase of the disease, over time the person becomes unable to perform even simple actions such as chatting. The disease, which causes the person’s quality of life to decrease significantly, also negatively affects the life of the person or people who care for the person over time. Alzheimer’s symptoms vary in the early, middle and advanced stages of the disease. When examined periodically, Alzheimer’s symptoms can be listed as follows:
Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms
Common Alzheimer’s symptoms in the early stages, when the disease begins, are as follows:
- forgetting the events,
- Inability to remember the names of objects and people,
- A person confuses the roads,
- Cant decide,
- Always talking about the same things,
- feeling anxious,
- Mood swings.
Mid-Term Alzheimer’s Symptoms
Alzheimer’s symptoms seen in the middle period following the initial period of the disease can be listed as follows:
- Exhibiting excited and angry behavior,
- Doubting family and friends,
- speech difficulty,
- aggressive attitude,
- Inability to adapt to foreign places,
- Denial of unremembered events,
- obsessive movements,
- Confusion in time perception,
Advanced Alzheimer’s Symptoms
The symptoms of advanced Alzheimer’s, which is the last stage of the disease, are as follows:
- loss of speech,
- Short and long-term memory problems,
- difficulty eating,
- weight loss,
- urinary incontinence,
- Inability to move without assistance.
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is basically examined in 3 stages: initial, intermediate and advanced. Although mild forgetfulness may occur in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the person can tolerate this situation. Early-stage Alzheimer’s patients who have difficulty remembering the names of new people they meet may have trouble planning. The middle phase is considered the longest phase of Alzheimer’s disease. During this period, when the symptoms of the disease are felt more clearly, the person has difficulties in expressing his thoughts. Over time, a person who has difficulty performing routine tasks becomes unable to remember the way home. This period, when problems begin to occur in controlling the bladder and intestines, is followed by the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, where the person needs care in almost every aspect, the person loses awareness of his or her environment. A person who has difficulty communicating cannot even perform physical actions on his own.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal beta amyloid protein in the brain, is not yet understood. Factors thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease can be listed as follows:
- Presence of some vascular diseases,
- Being exposed to trauma in the past,
- Being an APOE4 carrier,
- Presence of Alzheimer’s in the family,
- Past depression
- low education level,
- sleep disorder,
- Lack of physical activity,
- Inadequate and unbalanced nutrition,
When a physician is consulted for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, anamnesis is taken from the patient and the patient’s relatives, and then the person’s neurological examination is performed. Following the neurological tests, the physician requests neurocognitive tests, radiological imaging such as MRI, CT, PET and laboratory tests to examine some hormones, vitamins and other necessary values when deemed necessary. The person is re-evaluated in the light of the findings. In some cases, genetic tests may also be performed to clarify the diagnosis. Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the light of all the data and especially according to the course of the disease.
Despite extensive research on Alzheimer’s disease, there is no treatment method to cure the disease yet. However, there are different treatment approaches to slow the progression of the disease and reduce existing complaints. Personalized treatments usually start with the use of low doses of medication. In the following period, the patient is re-examined and the dose of medications is increased if necessary. It is aimed to increase the quality of life of the person and the patient’s relatives, thanks to treatment methods that aim to enable the person to carry out daily activities on his own.
Frequently Asked Questions About Alzheimer’s
Questions frequently asked by people with early signs of Alzheimer’s and their relatives are as follows:
1) How long does the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease last?
Alzheimer’s disease basically consists of 3 stages and the progression of the disease varies from person to person. Therefore, how long the last stage of the disease lasts also varies.
2) What should Alzheimer’s patients not eat?
Although the diet program for Alzheimer’s patients is created specifically for the patient, it is recommended to follow a diet low in sugar, carbohydrates and processed foods.
3) What should be done to avoid Alzheimer’s?
In order to avoid Alzheimer’s, it is recommended to constantly renew mental activities. In other words, reading new things, doing research, and learning a new language are factors that reduce the likelihood of a person getting Alzheimer’s. In addition to all these, one should eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly and sleep regularly.