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Alzheimer’s disease belongs to the dementia group of diseases that affects memory, concentration, thinking and behaviour. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary, and in the more severe cases, the symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and functioning.

What is Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is a general term describing a group of neurological disorders that affect memory and cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease causes about 60-80% of dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s disease meaning

Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes brain cells related to the functioning of memory and cognitive skills to gradually die. It is caused by an accumulation of abnormal clumps of protein in the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that results in a continuous decline in one’s ability to remember, think and function independently.

It is usually divided into three stages: early stage, middle stage and late stage.

In the first stage the symptoms are quite mild and it is easy to think that the person is just showing normal signs of memory decline, associated with aging.

In the middle and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease the symptoms get worse and the person needs more and more assistance with daily tasks, which is where the clinical diagnosis usually comes in.

Read more about the stages

Alzheimer’s disease and aging

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Although a certain amount of memory decline is considered normal for elderly people, Alzheimer’s is a clinical neurological problem.

When the disease progresses, the person loses their ability to take care of themselves, to understand social situations and to communicate clearly.

What Is Alzheimer

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is difficulty in remembering new information and skills.

Although there can be multiple reasons for memory difficulties (such as emotional reasons), if a person shows consistent signs of confusion, memory loss and disorientation, it might very well be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

The most common early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • Forgetting small things, such as where you left your glasses, or what you have scheduled for today. These are of course normal, and quite common also among people who do not have Alzheimer’s, but if these incidents get more and more common, they might be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Difficulties with language – not being able to find the right words, confusing different words, or difficulties in comprehending other people and engaging in conversations.
  • Repeatedly asking the same question over and over.

As the disease progresses, it can lead to other symptoms, ranging in severity from mild to extreme:

  • Disorientation – difficulties with eye-body coordination, location in space and operating mechanical devices.
  • Emotional distress – irritability, restlessness, anxiety, emotional swings that are not related to anything external.
  • Hallucinations and paranoia – in the most extreme cases, Alzheimer’s can even lead to complete delusions and hallucinations, as well as paranoid thoughts.

Causes for Alzheimer

There are two abnormal physiological structures, called “plaques and tangles” that are causing the damage to the brain, which manifests as Alzheimer’s disease.

Plaques are deposits of a protein called “Beta- Amyloid”. When these plaques are formed together they create a toxic effect on the neurons in the brain and disrupt the communication between different brain cells.

Tangles are twisted fibres of a different protein, which is called “tau”. They build up inside cells, and interfere with the brain’s transport system.

All people develop plaques and tangles in their brain as they age, but for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques and tangles develop far faster and in particular areas of the brain that are important for memory and cognitive abilities.

The plaques and tangles block communication between versace cells and are interrupting processes that allow nerve cells to build new connections and grow.

Alzheimer Causes

Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

Sideritis Scardica

The medications that are currently available on the market to treat Alzheimer’s disease can diminish the symptoms and slow down the rate of the decline. They do not cure the disease, however.

There are also plenty of natural remedies, backed up by recent scientific studies and evidence, which support the brain’s self-healing mechanisms. Together with a healthy diet and lifestyle they can assist in slowing down, and in some cases even stopping, the disease from progressing.

Another common form of treatment for Alzheimer’s is cognitive treatment – special exercises that are designed to stimulate the brain to create new cells and improve memory and cognitive functioning.

When to ask for a diagnosis

Since the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are very mild, and can be easily confused with normal memory decline as a result of aging, it is not always easy to recognize in the early stages. However, if you or one of your family members demonstrate a combination of memory decline, concentrating skills and other cognitive abilities, it is wise to go to a profession and ask for a diagnosis.

The doctor will probably start by eliminating other possible causes for the memory decline, such as stress and other emotional factors. If it seems that the cause for the memory loss is a neurological dysfunction in the brain, further tests will be done (such as an MRI scan) to evaluate whether the person is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

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