In a fairly general way, we can agree that aging is not always pleasant, age comes with its share of changes in the body and spirit that can be more or less serious and unfortunate, as could be demonstrated with the parts of the body. faster aging body. Alzheimer’s disease can be one of those things that happens in old age and we are going to talk a little about it trying to explain in a very summarized way what this disease consists of, because even today it is often misunderstood.
1. What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects the brain and is neurodegenerative, which means that sometimes it continues to evolve without the affected person realizing it and can worsen more or less quickly. It attacks certain areas of the brain and causes the loss of several of its functions in a totally irreversible way.
2. When was it discovered?
It was the German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer who “discovered” or rather identified the disease to which he gave his name in one of his patients in 1907. From the study carried out by the doctor on this patient, we continue with the follow-up of other cases to document the disease to this day.
3. What are the symptoms?
The progression of the disease is classified into three stages:
– First stage (mild): Short- and long-term memory is affected quite succinctly, which results in the patient temporarily forgetting (address, name, precise recent memory).
– Second stage (moderate): The hippocampus of the brain continues to be affected and the patient begins to have more advanced signs of the disease that affect their memory but also their language and behavior. At this stage, the patient may need help with household chores because he quickly loses autonomy.
– Third stage (severe): the memory is completely damaged, the most recent events are no longer recorded, but the person may also suffer from dementia and can no longer take care of himself. Almost omnipresent assistance is required. On the other hand, travel is difficult or even impossible and mobility is reduced, leading to increasingly serious physical disorders.
4. How many people does it affect?
There are about 55 million people with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide (45 million in 2015) and it is estimated that by 2030, 78 million people will be affected by the disease and 139 million in 2050. Therefore, the number of cases increases considerably, which is related to the average increase in life expectancy.
5. Can it be cured?
Some symptoms of the disease can be relieved with treatment, but there is no way to cure or stop it. As the patient is degenerative, unfortunately he cannot recover his lost faculties and there is no way to return to a less advanced state when he has reached a new level in the disease.
6. Are there things that can cause the disease?
Generally, the advanced age of a person is a reason that can cause Alzheimer’s, but other causes are studied: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, excessive use of anxiolytics, depression, significant exposure to mercury or aluminum… Researchers try to define things that could favor the appearance of the disease and its evolution, but the causes seem to be extremely numerous.
7. Does this only affect the elderly?
No. Alzheimer’s disease affects the vast majority of elderly people since almost 95% of patients are over 65 years old, however it can start early, which affects 4 to 5% of people. patients with no real age limit.
8. Is the disease fatal?
Except if there is an accident caused by the patient’s inattention or dementia, one does not actually die of Alzheimer’s disease. Usually due to physical disorders caused indirectly by the disease, patients die from it. Some develop pressure ulcers or infections from lack of movement, others pneumonia (one of the most common causes of death) from difficulty swallowing.
9. Is there an average life expectancy for affected people?
Depending on the speed with which the disease progresses, the management and the severity of the symptoms, the life expectancy of a person who declares Alzheimer’s varies between 8 and 12 years, but this obviously can be more and must also be calculated depending on the person’s age. person when they develop the disease but also if they already have other disorders or diseases.
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