Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and mostly affects people over 65. It is caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, reduced levels of neurological chemicals (neurotransmitters), and shrinkage of different brain parts over time. These lead to problems with memory, language, and performing tasks that the person had previously been able to do.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease which means it worsens over time.
Early symptoms can include;
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the problems with memory, behavior changes, and mood worsen. There may also be problems with sleep, and they may experience delusions (strongly believing things that are not true) or hallucinations (seeing things that other people cannot see).
Other later symptoms include worsening of behavior and psychological symptoms, including increased agitation and aggression. End-stage symptoms can include eating and swallowing difficulties and subsequent weight loss. Problems are moving around, and incontinence can also accompany the latter stages.
People with Alzheimer’s generally require increasing support with daily activities and may need full-time care as the disease progresses.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are ways to try to slow disease progression and manage symptoms.
There are two main types of medication used to help treat symptoms;
Getting older is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is important to note that it is not a part of normal aging.
Ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia include;
· Regular exercise (2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise is recommended each week)
· Balanced diet including daily fruit, vegetables, and whole grains; include oily fish twice a week
· Stop smoking
· Reduce alcohol to under 14 units a week, and have some alcohol-free days
· Keep mentally active by learning new skills, reading, doing puzzles, and socializing
· Seek help for and treat any other medical conditions early, for example, depression, hearing loss, or sleep problems
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