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Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Ravi Kshirsagar

MD (USA) PGDDE (UK) Consultant Physician and Diabetologist.

3 min read

Did you know that in India, more than 4 million people have some form of dementia ? Worldwide, at least 44 million people are living with dementia, making the disease a global health crisis that must be addressed.

Alzheimer’s disease affects memory, thinking and behaviour of a person. It is a type of dementia. Though the symptoms develop at a gradual pace and worsen over time, it can slowly develop into a severe problem that interferes with UR daily life if it is neglected.

According to the Indian Ageing Report 2017, more than four million cases of Alzheimer’s are reported per year in India. Also, owing to the nature of the disease and its effect on mankind at large, a definitive solution to combat this disease is the need of the hour.

The human mind is a fascinating amalgamation of ideas, emotions and functions that empower our body and lives, creating a variety of experiences. It holds the collective sum of whatever we do, building our choices to improve our past, present and future. Hence, it is essential to keep our mind in top shape. However, due to the hustle and bustle of daily life, combined with undue stress, our mind tends to get neglected.

Early Symptoms

The initial signs of Alzheimer’s may be linked to depression and irritability. These symptoms occur in three stages with inter-related characteristics that meld into each other.

Irritability, depression and night time behaviour changes are said to develop first. Anxiety, appetite changes, agitation and apathy, follow at a successive pace. The third stage has a variety of mixed symptoms elation, mobility disorders, hallucinations, delusions, impulsive and inappropriate behaviour.

Along with a host of health-related complications, mental deterioration is something that often takes place. Yet, as mentioned before, Alzheimer’s has more to do with the mind than ageing. The cause lies in the gradual degeneration and deterioration of brain cells. This eventually leads to the nerve cell connections becoming lost. Due to this, the critical mental functions and memory is compromised. For a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, the tissue has negligible nerve cell connections, making it impossible to function and retain things.

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While prevention is better than cure, we also need to talk about the appropriate diagnosis and treatment for the same. Certified tests should be involved to diagnose the stage and extent of deterioration. So here’s what helps UR doctor reach a conclusion:

  • Consulting immediate family to note change of behaviour
  • Conducting memory tests, problem-solving, attention span, counting and language
  • Brain scans like computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PeT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps in eliminating other causes that trigger the symptoms this needs to be repeated as suggested by the doctor

In India, more than 4 million people have some form of dementia. Worldwide, at least 44 million people are living with dementia, making the disease a global health crisis that must be addressed.

Coping With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the life of the patient, as well as his/her family members and caregivers. Keep the following tips in mind as they can help in healing.

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  • Try to keep things simple, focusing on a single question or activity
  • Establish a daily routine to instil faith and semblance
  • Create a safe space for the patient to thrive and build a connection
  • Shift the focus from words to feelings or intentions
  • Keep agitation to a minimum level and balance the energy flow
  • Maintain a peaceful and calm demeanour
  • Enlist the power of humour whenever you can
  • Try using music, singing or dancing to empower the person