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What Is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a chronic disease which is caused due to degeneration of neurons. The neurons slowly lose their function as well as structure. This disease becomes worse with time. If you are suffering from Alzheimer’s, you will slowly lose function of your brain. With time, your thinking and reasoning power will also be affected, and it will become difficult for you to perform even simple tasks. Above all, what makes it such a huge deal is there is no specific cure for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia – Same or Different?

Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s and Dementia are not the same things. To understand the difference properly, you can say that Alzheimer’s is a type of Dementia.

Dementia is not actually a disease; it refers to the cognitive impairment that is observed with increasing age of individuals. Any problems an individual faces with thinking, social problems, memory, etc. can be grouped under dementia. Being diagnosed with dementia simply means that you are diagnosed with a group of symptoms. It is not clear yet what is the cause of those symptoms.

A Little about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is mostly seen in people above the age of fifty.  The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include forgetful nature, rapid mood changes, and aggressive behavior.

According to a study, by the year 2020, 14.2% of the Indian population will be above the age of 60. In the same study, we find that nearly 4% of a community population in the South Indian state of Kerala suffers from Dementia. The cause of Dementia in 1.96% of these people is Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of awareness of this disease in India, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are confused with the signs of aging. One of the many reasons why Alzheimer’s cannot be detected medically in early stages is because of the similarity of the symptoms with signs of aging.

Different Stages of Alzheimer’s

Based on the symptoms, Alzheimer’s disease can be divided into 7 stages.

No Impairment Stage: You might not experience any symptom of the disease yet. On the biological level, the Cerebral Cortex and Hippocampus of the brain suffers extreme shrinkage, and the ventricles become extremely At this stage, you may not even experience it. But, if goes undetected and undiagnosed at this point, it only leads to more severe stages.

Very Mild Cognitive Decline Stage: You may feel like you forget certain words or locations that you have heard or seen before. Diagnosis is not possible even at this stage since medical tests cannot determine any such symptoms yet.

Mild Cognitive decline Stage: It is at this stage, that you might be diagnosed with the disease. In this stage, your friends and family might start noticing the difference in your personality. Some symptoms include problems remembering names, having more problems in performing tasks, misplacing things and so on.

Moderate Cognitive Decline: It is also considered as the early stage of Alzheimer’s. Diagnosis through a medical interview is possible at this stage. Forgetting recent events, having difficulty in solving problems, forgetting your own history are some of the symptoms observed in this stage.

Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline: This is the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease. In this stage, you might require help in daily activities and gaps in your memory become very noticeable. Other symptoms are confusion about where you are, which day it is, assistance in doing basic needs or needing help with choosing proper clothing.

Severe Cognitive Decline: The memory is even worse at this stage. You may lose awareness of your surroundings, having trouble distinguishing faces, change in sleeping patterns or chances to wander off.

Very Severe Cognitive Decline Stage: This is the final or last stage of Alzheimer’s. During this stage, you will become unresponsive to any stimulus. You will also lose the ability to carry on a conversation with people. You will need help to do everything and might lose the ability to sit without support or even smile.

Study on Alzheimer’s Among Indian Senior Citizens

A study was done in Kerala which consisted of 2466 subject whose age was over 55 years. They all complied to participate in this study for ten years. The subjects were first screened, and then positive screened subjects underwent evaluation showing the following results.

Age groupMen (n)Women (n)Total (n)
55–5952025
60–64155222377
65–69132146278
70–7485106191
75–794363106
80–84213556
≥85181533
≥65299365664
≥554596071066

 

The statistic from another study done by the government of West Bengal stated that in India, Alzheimer’s is the cause of dementia in most of the patients. The studies show that in the four regions of India, north, east, west, and south, the causes of dementia in patients is mostly the Alzheimer’s disease. The rate of people suffering from the disease rising with each year makes it very important to make people aware of the disease.

References:

  1. The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in India
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease – An Analytical View

 

 

 

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