In this article:
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Advice & Support
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
If you are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease it means that you are experiencing the gradual loss of your cognitive abilities. You will find that your memory becomes poorer as the condition progresses. Your ability to reason and make sense of things will not be as good as it used to be.
As yet, and despite in-depth research worldwide, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Also, it is a chronic (long-lasting) condition where symptoms gradually become more severe as the years pass.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
Difficulty in saying the right words
Loss of interest in activities you would normally enjoy
Difficulty recognising people and places that used to be familiar to you
Although the precise cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, it is thought that for many sufferers the onset of the condition is simply part of the ageing process.
Also, for some people, genetic factors may play a part in them developing the disease. That is, they may have genetic predisposition to having Alzheimer’s disease because it is already in the family and has been passed down from a previous generation. In fact, almost 50 per cent of people with Alzheimer’s disease have a relative with the condition.
Other causes of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
Head injuries (which may have resulted in some kind of damage or disturbance to the brain)
High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
There is no basic diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease. Also, establishing a confirmed diagnosis is often made difficult due to many of the symptoms and associated symptoms being similar to those which can occur as a result of the development of other conditions, such as brain tumour and thyroid problems.
If you think you may be suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease, arrange to see your GP. After taking your medical history and asking you some questions about your symptoms (and how often they occur) your GP will make a decision on whether to arrange a referral appointment for you with a specialist. Specialists in Alzheimer’s generally use diagnostic tests such as memory tests and/or a brain scan when attempting to confirm diagnosis.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, some medications are prescribed to help delay the condition’s development. These may be prescribed by your GP, and include:
All three medications have been formulated and are prescribed to fight the chemical breakdown in the brain - slowing down this breakdown in an effort to decelerate brain deterioration overall (for most people – an inevitable part of the ageing process).
As we have seen, depression can also be a related symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Your GP may prescribe antidepressant medication to help treat this associated condition.
Talking therapies are also often recommended for people with Alzheimer’s disease. These therapies can involve group discussions – to encourage brain stimulation, and also group activities and reminiscence therapy. Reminiscence therapy is intended to keep the memory ‘active’ by focusing on things such as photographs and personal possessions which may have a nostalgic sentimental value – to help jog your memory.
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