He would joyfully call our names when we were growing up, pops knew the names of all my friends, all his friends and all mom’s friends.
During my wedding day, I could see the joy in his eyes as he walked me down the aisle, that was one of the joyous moments of my life.
Agony struck when two years later. Mum called and she said something was wrong with pops, she said he was forgetting things, that he even forgot who she was. I didn’t believe at first but I had to run back home and check, to my surprise it was true.
I took him to the hospital, and the doctor said he had Alzheimer’s.
Now, what is Alzheimer’s disease?
It is also known as senile dementia of Alzheimer type, and it is the most common type of dementia.
Also, it’s a neurodegenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable and it was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer’s.
It is usually diagnosed in people over 65years. It is rarely seen in younger individuals.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ALZHEIMER’S
There is impairment of cognitive abilities(learning, memory, thinking etc).
The loss of short term memory is usually the first symptom seen, then there’s a loss of long term memory.
Other symptoms like loss of ability to count, obey orders, calculate, inability to remember names, events, places, etc.
Death usually occurs after 6-12years accompanied by various complications such as pneumonia and other breathing problems.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by loss of neurones and synapses in the cerebrum and also some neurones in the subcortical areas of the brain.
There is a high death of cells in these affected regions, including degeneration in the temporal lobe and parietal lobe, frontal complex and cingulate gyrus.
Neurones that helps in the transmission of acetylcholine (cholinergic transmission) are destroyed, thus there is a deficiency of acetylcholine in an Alzheimer’s patient.
Transmission of Other neurotransmitters such as 5HT and glutamate are as impaired.
When an Alzheimer’s patient is scanned, amyloid plaques and tangles consisting of amorphous extracellular deposits of B amyloid protein and neurofibrillary angle are seen.
RISK FACTORS OF ALZHEIMER’S
1. Age: The more you grow old, there’s a higher risk of you having Alzheimer’s
2. Gender: Research has shown that women are more likely to have Alzheimer’s than men.
3. Genetics: A person whose father or mother or any relative has Alzheimer’s, it is likely that the person may have it too.
4. Head injury
5. Down syndrome
6. High cholesterol levels
7. High blood pressure
MANAGEMENT OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs given are used in treating the effects that the loss of acetylcholine has caused(agitation, anxiety, apathy, delusions, hallucinations) etc.
Thus some antianxiety drugs are given.
Supportive therapy such as diet and exercise have also proven to be helpful.
Psychosocial interventions are used as an adjunct to pharmaceutical treatment and can be classified within the behaviour, emotion, cognition, or stimulation oriented approaches.