Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and eventually fatal disease of the brain. It causes impairment of the higher brain functions such as memory, thinking and personality. The rate of progression of the disease varies from person to person. A person may live from three to twenty years with Alzheimer’s disease, with the average being seven to ten years.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. Dementia, in simple terms means loss of memory.
It is difficult to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. But once the diagnosis is confirmed the health care professional can determine the line of treatment.
There are no specific tests or laboratory procedures to establish the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A confirmatory diagnosis of this disease can be established only with the help of a post mortem report.
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can come to the doctor with a range of symptoms, which include loss of memory, irritability, depression and anxiety. It is important to rule out the presence of other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as brain tumors, depression or some types of malnutrition. In order to do this, the health care professional may refer the person to undergo various tests. These include routine tests such as routine blood tests, routine urine tests, ultrasound, CT scan and X-ray. The doctor may also refer the individual to a psychiatrist in order to undergo intellectual function tests and for a thorough psychiatric evaluation. In other cases the individual may also be prescribed neurological examination and neurological tests. Once the physician has ruled out all other medical abnormalities and diseases, then based on the history and the symptoms the doctor can reach the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are trying to find drugs which can slow down the progress of this disease. The only available treatment is the use of drugs that boost the efficiency of damaged neurons. Recently, cholinergic drugs are found to be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. But more research is still being carried out regarding the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the role of cholinergic drugs and other treatment options. Drugs can also be used to treat other associated symptoms of this disease, such as anxiety, depression and irritability.
There are many support groups which provide counseling and support for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their family members. In these support groups, the family members and friends are educated about Alzheimer’s disease. They are provided with necessary treatment options. They are encouraged to share their experiences. They are provided with the necessary counseling sessions and therapy where the patients and their family members, especially the primary care giver are helped to develop the necessary coping skills.
Physical activity and Alzheimer’s Disease
The person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is encouraged to participate in group exercises with their family members and friends. Exercise helps to reduce the associated symptoms such as depression and anxiety and boosts their confidence. But it is important to consult the heath care professional before starting any new exercise regimen.