Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic type of a group of illnesses referred to as dementia ( a progressive decline in cognitive and behavioral function in ageing people beyond what is normal for ageing)
Accounting for a large percentage of dementia, Alzheimer’s slowly degrades the mind and worsens over time. Its first sign most often is difficulty remembering recent events as well as newly formed memories.
Honestly, there is no clear consensus in the scientific community as to what causes Alzheimer’s disease, much of what is being touted as causes of the disease are mostly scientific speculation subject to more research. However, there seems to be a heavy link between this disease and genetics. That said, your Dad is more likely to have Alzheimer’s when ageing if his dad, mom, aunt or uncle had the disease while they were ageing. The same is true for a lot of people. However, there are cases of Alzheimer’s in patients without family history of the disease.
The disease process is characterized by the formation of clusters of proteins (beta amyloid peptides) called plaques and aggregates (tangling) of proteins fibers called tangles in and around brains cells. Accumulation of plaques and tangles in any of the brain degenerates that part of the brain leading to the loss if functionality normally undertaken by that part of the brain.
This degeneration is slow but steady in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease and continues to damage parts of their brain, physically reducing the brain size.
Earlier, we stated that Alzheimer’s disease is one type of a group of diseases known as dementia. Alzheimer’s shares a lot of symptoms with some other types of dementia and can be mistaken as one of them.
However, there are some symptoms which are highly suggestive of Alzheimer’s disease. They include;
- Forgetting names of family members and friends.
- Inability to remember a large chunk of recent time.
- Difficulty in handling minor tasks which they’re already familiar with.
- Decreased personal hygiene.
- Decreased judgement.
- Mood and personality changes.
- General forgetfulness.
The following symptoms may be noticed,In severe cases of Alzheimer’s disease,
- Inability to carry on a conversation.
- Inability to carry out basic tasks such as eating and putting on clothes.
- Loss of speech.
- Loss of facial expressions.
Some studies seem to imply that people with certain lifestyle and diet seem to have a reduced chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Diets which reduce risk of Alzheimer’s generally include healthy Japanese and Mediterranean diets while diets with high saturated fat simple carbohydrate content lead to a higher risk.
Light use of caffeine and foods like cocoa, red wine and tea rich in flavonoids is also associated with lowered risk of Alzheimer’s.
People who engage in intellectual activities such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments and solving puzzles show a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease and as such the condition gradually gets worse over time.
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
This is the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease and the stage most often confused for other maladies. Symptoms are commonly wrongly attributed to old age and stress, however, adequate tests by a neuro-psychologist should able to detect this stage of Alzheimer’s.
The most common symptom of this stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the inability to recall recently learned facts and difficulty internalizing new information.
Other symptoms of this stage of Alzheimer’s include impairments in memory of common facts, inability to understand meanings of common words, depressive symptoms and lack of awareness of their memory lapses.
This is the stage of the disease where definite diagnoses are given for Alzheimer’s. It is at this stage that increased learning and memory impairments occur. Symptoms of this stage of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, inability to learn, difficulty with language in the form of reduced vocabulary, perception and movement. At this stage of Alzheimer’s, the patient is still able to carry out most cognitively undemanding tasks and they only need supervision performing those tasks.
At this stage of the disease the symptoms become evident even to untrained eyes. Deterioration gets to the level where the patients are unable to carry out even simple tasks. Patients become unable to perform even the smallest of tasks without assistance.
Speech becomes difficult as a result of inability to recall vocabulary, reading and writing skills are progressively degraded. At this stage, most complex motor functions are degraded which makes the patient prone to falls when walking or standing.
Memory problems worsen at this stage with the patient unable to remember even close relatives. Long term memories are lost at this stage.
Other symptoms which may be observed at this stage include irritability, wandering, aggression, resistance to care, illusionary misidentifications are common at this stage. This is the stage where you need to be there for your loved one suffering for Alzheimer’s or take them to a long term care facility.
This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s, at this stage the patient is completely dependent on caregivers. Language and speech reduce drastically with small words and phrases being very difficult.
Inasmuch as there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease at the moment there are treatments which are palliative and offer relatively better quality of life. It is your responsibility to take complete care of your loved ones with Alzheimer’s, and doing that is quite challenging.
However there are some steps you could take to make the burden lighter for yourself if you decide to take up the care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Six Easy Tips to take When Taking Care of an Alzheimer Patient
- Labelling of common household items.
- Putting locks on counters with possible harmful substances or equipment e.g. the drug cabinet and knife rack.
- Putting safety locks on doors
- Establishing easy to follow routines.
- Preparing food in forms which make the food easy to eat by the Alzheimer’s patient.
- Ensuring they don’t get in contact with infections.
To answer your question (Dad Forgets a lot Could it be Alzheimer’s?):
Maybe ,if he is above the age of 60 and pushing to 70.You can also look out for one or more of the above listed symptom.