EXCLUSIVE: World Alzheimer's Day 2021: All about the disease that one needs to know

Updated on Sep 22, 2021 09:06 AM IST  |  67.9K
   
Everything you need to know about Alzheimer's
All about Alzheimer's disease
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Ever picked up your phone, and unlocked it only to forget what was that you wanted to do? The answer most probably will be a yes. While this is common in the young adults today, all thanks to the increasing stress and hectic work schedules, it is extremely uncomfortable and an irritating feeling.

Did you ever think how must your grandparents feel when they keep on forgetting things, and you get angry with them? Is it something that is in their hands? A big no.

On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day, doctors talk about the most telling signs of the disease and how one can take care of people suffering from it.

Alzheimer disease is the most common cause of neurodegenerative disorder in elderly individuals and it can present in following ways:

Gradually progressive (over 6 months) in an old aged patient

  • Forgetfulness of the recent events without affecting past events initially
  • Difficulty in navigating themselves in previously well-known areas
  • Difficulty in dressing and undressing
  • Difficulty in doing day to day activities on account of these aforesaid problems

forget

“Memory loss that disrupts daily life and finding difficulties in day-to-day activities like forgetting where the house keys are, not remembering where the money is kept and forgetting whether he has taken bath after taking one are the most-telling signs of the disease,” says Dr Aparna Gupta, Senior Consultant Neurologist, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

Now, if you are wondering how to know if someone is suffering from Alzheimer’s or is merely stressed, Dr Manish Kulshrestha, Consultant, Neurology, Paras JK Hospital, Udaipur, has a piece of advice for you.

“A patient in stress will also have associated psychological features like loss of appetite, loss of interest in previous recreational activities, sad mood etc. Unlike Alzheimer patients they are less cooperative and irritable during their clinical and higher mental function examination. On the other hand, the person suffering from Alzheimer’s tries to remember the events and content they are forgetting which makes them extra concentrative in their examination and daily work,” explains Kulshrestha.

He adds that it is a sporadic neurodegenerative disease, and 10-13 percent patients may have a genetic cause of having Alzheimer’s. “The major cause of this disease is APOE Allele,” mentions Kulshrestha.

A cause of worry is that no cure is available as of now. “There are not many changes in the treatment over the years. There are three classes of drugs that are given. Also, there are three stages of the disease: mild, moderate and severe. Alzheimer’s will allow the old memories to remain, only new memories will be forgotten. It is not completely curable but can be reduced with the help of an experienced doctor,” says Gupta.

Kulshrestha adds and tells you that medication like memantine, rivastigmine, donepezil, etc. are available which are effective in the early stage. “In the later stage of the disease behavioural and psychological issues occur and they are managed symptomatically,” he says.

sudoku

While there is no sure way of preventing Alzheimer’s, controlling lifestyle -- healthy and nutritious food, 150 minutes of activity every week, and stopping smoking and alcohol -- can help reduce the risk to a great extent, says Gupta.

Kulshrestha adds that studies have revealed that doing active mental tasks and exercise like sudoku, word puzzles, scrabbles and crosswords can delay the progression of the disease.

Experts say that caretakers of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s are often presented with big challenges. However, they have to stay patient.

“There is a big challenge for the person taking care of such patients. First of all, the person taking care of such a person should be patient. The caretaker has a big role in the transition of the disease from moderate to severe. The patient has to be told that it is morning, take bath, eat food and help in his/her daily routine. Some patients remain calm, while others become aggressive. Here, proper care needs to be taken with the help of a doctor,” opines Gupta.

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The area, Kulshrestha says, calls for a lot of work in order to create awareness. The starting steps for this could be:

  • Proper use of mass media for spreading out the message, causes, preventions and help centres for this kind of diseases.
  • Screening at regular intervals in the subset of the population.
  • Case studies and articles could be presented to share the experience, symptoms, treatment and precautions for such patients.

Gupta has a different take and she believes that we have seen a great awareness about medicine, mainly in rural areas. “Earlier, in such a condition it was said that the person has become senile, but now they are identified and taken for proper treatment,” concludes Gupta.

Read Also: World Alzheimer’s Day 2021: Ways to deal with people suffering from this disease

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