The most common type of dementia Alzheimer's disease is a neurological disorder that affects the memory, thinking and behaviour adversely. The disease has different stages, and the symptoms show accordingly. As Alzheimer's progresses the damage to the brain is raised, and symptoms worsen. In India, over a population of 4 million has some form of dementia whereas worldwide, the number raises to a whopping 44 million. Moreover approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer's. One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 per cent) has Alzheimer's dementia. The disease is a global burden that requires immediate addressal. Skinny Fat People May Be At Risk of Alzheimer's Disease, Says Study
A general overview of Alzheimer's from the NCBI bookshelf says, "Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterised by dementia that typically begins with subtle and poorly recognised failure of memory and slowly becomes more severe and, eventually, incapacitating. Other common findings include confusion, poor judgment, language disturbance, agitation, withdrawal, and hallucinations."
Occasionally, seizures, Parkinsonian features, increased muscle tone, myoclonus (contraction of groups of muscles), incontinence(lack of voluntary control over urination or defecation), and mutism (inability to speak) occur. Death usually results from general inanition, malnutrition, and pneumonia. The typical clinical duration of the disease is eight to ten years, with a range from one to 25 years." Also, did you know that Herpes Virus May Raise Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease, Says Study?
The disease doesn't only affect the patient but also their family, friends, caregivers. However, what worsens the cases of Alzheimer's is the rumours surrounding the condition. We spoke to Dr Era Dutta, M.D Psychiatry, DNB Psych, MBBS and asked about a few myths about Alzheimer's that prevail in our society. Here are a few myths and facts about Alzheimer's that leading Psychiatrist Dr Era Dutta thinks shouldn't prevail.
- MYTH 1- Forgetting names/ small things once in a while - it must be Alzheimer’s.
FACT- Minor slips in memory does not equate to dementia. Memory loss that disrupts daily life has to be there. Such that one usually forgets recently learned information, may ask for essential dates and event-related information over and over again may hint at Alzheimer’s.
- MYTH 2- Alzheimer’s disease is the only condition in which people have memory loss.
FACT- Not true. Memory loss can occur in a vast variety of conditions. In fact, there are many other types of dementia present. Common ones are Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Dementia etc.
- MYTH 3-There is a cure for Alzheimer’s.
FACT- So far there isn’t a cure. If someone markets you a product guaranteeing that it can cure Alzheimer’s dementia, they aren’t being realistic. Hopefully, in the near future, this myth can become a fact. Research is ongoing.
- MYTH 4- Eating in aluminium vessels/ having silver tooth fillings may cause Alzheimer’s?
FACT- Such myths are baseless, and no science has proven that these metals are leading to Alzheimer’s.
- MYTH 5- Only very old people can get Alzheimer’s.
FACT- Although it is generally considered an old person’s disease (above 65 years) there is a variant called Early-onset Alzheimer’s which can affect people in their 40s and 50s. However, the rates of these are much significantly lower.
It takes a great deal of effort on the part of caregivers to help the patient manage the symptoms of Alzheimer's. A study talking about the management of Alzheimer's says, "Treatment is supportive; each symptom is managed on an individual basis; assisted living arrangements or care in a nursing home is usually necessary; drugs that increase cholinergic activity by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase produce a modest but useful behavioural or cognitive benefit in a minority of affected individuals."
(Reference: Alzheimer Disease Overview)