Analysing Alzheimer’s

brainAlzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. This incurable syndrome is notorious for worsening, gradually, over the course of time.

First diagnosed and described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, the syndrome is usually diagnosed in people over 65 years of age. However, a sub-strain known as “early-onset Alzheimer’s” can occur in people of a younger age.

It is said that there are around 30m current sufferers worldwide, and that the syndrome is set to affect one in every 85 people, globally, by 2050.

Although the development of the condition differs from person to person, there are many commonalities across the board.

Early symptoms can often be mistaken for age-related concerns, or manifestations of the stress of growing old.

Typically the earliest of Alzheimer’s  tell-tale signs involves the sufferer having difficulty remembering recent events. When a case of AD is suspected, the diagnosis should, usually, be confirmed with behavioural tests. The patients deductive abilities are usually monitored, following a brain scan.

As the disease continues to advance, symptoms can include confusion, irritability and aggression; as well as mood swings, trouble with verbal communication and longer-term memory loss.

As the sufferer’s condition declines, it is not uncommon that they become withdrawn from the social groups around them.

Gradually bodily functions are lost which ultimately leads to death.

doctors-2A silent killer, AD can progress, undiagnosed, for years. Developing for an unknown and variable amount of time. One average, the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is around seven years. In fact, fewer than 3% of individual live more than 14 years after initial diagnosis.

The root cause of AD is not yet well understand. Current treatments only aid the symptoms of the disease. As of 2012, more than 1,000 clinical trials have been conducted in an attempt to find ways to control the disease.

Mental stimulation, exercise and a balanced diet have been suggested as ways to delay the cognitive symptoms. However, despite much anecdotal evidence, there is no conclusive proof that this approach works.

Ultimately, due to the unstoppable nature of the disease, the sufferer will eventually rely on others for assistance. The role of the main caregiver is often adopted by someone close to the patient. It is, indeed, important that the caregiver had a close understanding of the needs of the sufferer. AD, as such, is known for placing a huge burden on the caregiver. It is not always the case that a family member is the best carer for someone with AD, and in fact it is sometimes best that a professional who is experienced and qualified should be the one to take care of the afflicted person. One such company in my local area is Managing Care, who, as a care agency in Richmond, are able to offer the level of care that is needed when this disease has progressed.

In the developed world, there are few diseases which prove more costly to society.