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  • Writer's pictureMed Insider

Progressive Forgetting: All About Alzheimer’s

By Yuan Cheng

Highlights

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurological disease that results in memory loss.

  • It’s caused by harm to brain tissues.

  • There are no known cures.

Introduction

Alzheimer’s Disease, characterized by a progressive loss of memory and even physical capabilities, is a prevalent branch of dementia that afflicts over 3 million people in the US per year. It’s a neurological disease that affects people of all age groups, although it is most common amongst the elderly and those above the age of 65 years.


Symptoms

Although the severity of each symptom varies, there are some symptoms crucial for identification of the disease. Early identification is key!


Early Stage

  1. Constant failure to remember (shown through losing items, repeating questions recurrently, failure to recall people and places).

  2. Reluctance to change habits or experiment with new things.


Middle Stage

  1. Aphasia (inability to recall or pronounce previously-learned words)

  2. Mood swings and increasingly negative emotions

  3. Incertitude and disorganization in thoughts

  4. Firm misconceptions

  5. Insomnia


Late Stage

  1. Movement difficulties

  2. Oscillation in weight

  3. Speech impediment or loss

  4. Short/long-term memory loss


Causes


Alzheimer’s Disease causes the shrinking of the brain through the decreasing of nerve cells and tissue amounts.


Age, genetics, heredity, and other factors can all alter someone’s likelihood of developing the disease. Those who are 65+ see their risks double every five years; those who are 85+ have a ⅓ risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Those who have direct relatives with the disease are also subjected to higher risks, though environmental factors and personal traits may exacerbate or allay such risks. A very small percentage of patients (less than 1%) develop Alzheimer’s due to deterministic genes, but it does happen.


Conclusion


Cure

There is no known cure that effectively lets someone recover fully, but there are treatments to alleviate its effects. Cholinesterase inhibitors (drugs such as Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine; treat early, middle, and late stage Alzheimer’s respectively) and Memantine (usually for late stage) can both improve the condition of the patient. Lecanemab, which could appear in the market in 2023, can potentially assuage mild dementia.


Prevention

It is possible to decrease one’s chance of getting Alzheimer’s. Methods include frequent exercises, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, having an advised weight, etc. Correcting hearing issues can also help.


Additional Resource


Above is a five minute video on the artist William Utermohlen, who had Alzheimer’s Disease in his later years. The video will display and analyze some of the artworks he made as his condition worsened.


References

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