What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible and progressive brain disease. It affects the person's ability to think clearly and logically and destroys the said person's memory and memorizing abilities, eventually leading to, among various other complications, trouble with or inability to perform even very simple tasks. This disease is more common in women than in men, for still unknown reasons, but it is believed that it might be because women in general live longer than men. Majority of population diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease are over 65 years of age.
Alzheimer's disease is the typical cause of dementia in elderly persons. It gradually destroys their cognitive ability and makes it more and more difficult for them to think, remember, and reason.
Alzheimer's disease damages the synapses, that is, communication points between brain cells, and thus damages cognition (in plain language, memory and thinking). As their synapses fail, brain cells begin to die off. This interference that damages synapses is supposedly caused by abnormal fibers, which look like clumps and knitted mass. Reason for appearance of such tangled fibers is still unknown and significant efforts are spent to discover the source of this condition. There are three stages of Alzheimer's disease, mild, moderate and severe.
In the early stage, the disease is manifested through changes in mood and minor loss of memory. Some difficulty in performing of routine, everyday tasks might be experienced. Also, affected persons may become lost, repeat questions that were answered minutes before, become confused easily, and the like. In moderate stage, which is the longest (may last from two to ten years) persons suffer from loss of both short and long term memory, and are frequently disoriented and detached from reality, frequently have trouble to recognize even family members, and fail to perform complex tasks. Severe stage of Alzheimer's disease is the harshest, as affected persons lose virtually all of their memory, and are unable to take care for themselves, including the ability to speak, feed themselves, or control bodily functions.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is made by assessment of the patient's overall health, discussion on changes in behavior, estimation of ability to manage simple tasks and overview of the person's medical history. This includes tests which will determine the person’s ability to solve problems and to memorize, count and focus. Some medical tests will be run to search for other possible causes of the experienced symptoms. CT or MRI brain scans are also performed.
There is (still) no cure for Alzheimer's disease but it is possible to slow its progress in some people and for a limited amount of time, typically up to a year. Prevention of Alzheimer's disease including constant stimulation of one's mind and maintaining a healthy circulatory system as brain is strong need of a good blood and nutrient supply.