As people grow older, there are several changes taking place in the body. Older people are more susceptible to diseases and disorders. This is because the body systems start to grow weak and fail to function well. There is a specific pattern of neurological diseases in the elderly. As time goes by, the body becomes weak, and its ability to fight diseases is diminished. Alzheimer’s in elderly is one such old age disorder that affects the elderly. It is a disorder where a person’s ability to retain information is lost. Alzheimer and Dementia are some of the medical terms that generally confuse. Dementia is a general term related to the decline in mental ability. In contrast, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease where the brain cells decline rapidly.
What neurological issues do the elderly face?
Neurological disorders are very common amongst people of old age. Ageing can lead to several neurological diseases such as Hemorrhage in the brain, Dementia, Stroke etc.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
While the exact reason for Alzheimer’s isn’t totally understood, some of the causes of Alzheimer’s are –
- Age – While it’s not necessary that everyone may develop Alzheimer’s disease with ageing, the chances of it developing are still high with Alzheimer’s age of onset. People over the age of 65, are at risk of Alzheimer’s and belong to the Alzheimer’s age group. This is because, with ageing, the brain shrinks along with the loss of neurons. In Alzheimer’s patients, the neurons start degenerating rapidly, thus causing cognitive impairment and memory loss.
- Genetics – If a member of your family has Alzheimer’s, it is likely that you too may develop the disease. The inherited genes from family members may or may not influence the chances of getting the disease.
- Lifestyle- Your dietary choices, your health, poor sleeping patterns, and other lifestyle choices can influence your chances of having Alzheimer’s. Binge drinking or excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to cognitive impairment.
- Alzheimer’s Environmental factors –Apart from the above factors, environmental factors such as pollution of the air, etc can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Suppose one looks at the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease. In that case, one comes to know that Neurofibrillary tangles and Beta-amyloid plaques are mainly responsible for the damage caused to the brain cells. They cause the shrinking of the brain and the rapid depletion of neurons in the brain, thus impeding the normal functioning of the brain. There are three types of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s being a progressive brain disease, a patient goes through the following stages –
Stage 1- The Mild Stage
This is the first stage of the disease where one may start forgetting small things. This observation may go unnoticed as forgetfulness is a common problem among the elderly. The neurons start to degenerate, and their connection with parts of the brain responsible for memory is hindered. A person may face small difficulties such as difficulty in remembering dates, events, days, names of family members, phone numbers, forgetting to pay the bills, etc.
Stage 2- The Moderate Stage
In the moderate stage, the intensity of the disease slightly increases. The symptoms are quite evident. One may notice changes such as difficulty in remembering events of life or close family members, forgetting words, etc. Here, the part of the brain responsible for language, senses, reasoning, and consciousness is affected. As time passes, each day becomes a challenge. One may feel detached from the world and lonely.
Stage 3- The Severe Stage
The third stage is where things start turning worse. The neurons start degenerating rapidly. One finds it difficult to breathe or swallow food. The patient is unable to leave the bed and is dependent on someone.
Some symptoms of Alzheimer’s
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s may appear slowly and hence, can be unnoticeable. The symptoms may occur as mild at first but eventually, they intensify. As time passes, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms start getting worse, and the person may get irritated with their condition. They have a hard time remembering, and thus they may develop trust issues. The brain’s neurons rapidly degenerate at the severe stage, and the person starts to lose control of their condition. Some of the symptoms are-
- Lack of energy or the zest to work
- Forgetting to carry out simple tasks
- Withdrawal from social life, signs of depression
- Trouble understanding or interpreting words, symbols, etc.
- Struggling in solving problems, remembering directions
- Slurred speech, and trouble putting words to thoughts
- Confusion about the time and place. Difficulty in remembering faces.
- A constant state of confusion and mix up of the past and present events
- Weight Loss, seizures, etc.
- Lost control over bladder and bowel movement (due to damaged brain cells)
- The trouble with swallowing food
- Extreme mood swings.
It is said that old age is the second childhood, and hence it is important that one takes special care of the old ones. Alzheimer’s completely steals one’s lifelong memories, and dealing with it can be quite frustrating. It is important that one consults the best neurologist in Faridabad for quick treatment. Only with the care and support of close friends and family, one can cope up with Alzheimer’s disease.
For further health complications and issues related to Alzheimer’s Disease, you can prefer consulting a reputed neurologist through appointment for proper guidance and treatment.