ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE 1
Alzheimer’s disease refers to a degenerative brain disorder thathinders behavior, thinking, and memory. Notably, the condition occursas the most common type of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s accountsfor 60-80% of all cases of dementia (Alzheimer’s, 2017).Alzheimer’s typically manifests through unexplained episodes ofmemory loss. Confusion also occurs whereby the person misplacesthings, gets lost in familiar locations, and experiences problemswith language (Alzheimer’s, 2017). Alzheimer’s affects more than5 million Americans each year. More than 10% of persons older than 65years are affected by the condition. Besides, over one-third ofadults over 85 years of age have Alzheimer’s. The condition affectsover 10 million caregivers, friends, and family members (Alzheimer’s,2017). In this paper, I will show that Alzheimer’s is one of themost dangerous conditions for people over 65 years of age.
The brain typically contains plenty of interconnections amongneurons. Alzheimer’s blocks and disables communication amongbillions of nerve cells. The condition also disrupts processes thatare quite fundamental to the survival of neurons. In many instances,memory loss results from the destruction of nerve cells (Alzheimer’s,2017). Personality changes may also occur due to the disruption oflinkages among neurons. Tangles and plaques are observable in thebrains of persons dealing with Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s, 2017).The gradual spread of these deposits causes a worsening of symptoms.
Admittedly, it is quite unclear why nerve cells stop functioning atan optimal rate. Nevertheless, there are particular risk factors thatincrease the likelihood of contracting Alzheimer’s. For example,the condition usually affects persons older than 65 years of age.Over 11% of people in the latter group have Alzheimer’s(Alzheimer’s, 2017). Furthermore, the risk of contracting thedisease is higher when one family member has Alzheimer’s. Thepresence of certain genes increases the likelihood of developing thedisease. African Americans and Latinos have a higher prevalence ofAlzheimer’s compared to whites. In fact, older blacks are twice aslikely to have the condition as whites. Many researchers havetheorized that vascular diseases enhance the risk of developingAlzheimer’s. Harmful habits such as alcoholism, smoking, and lackof exercise have been linked with some symptoms of Alzheimer’s(Alzheimer’s, 2017). Other conditions such as stroke, hypertension,diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases intensify the likelihood ofdeveloping Alzheimer’s.
Primary care physicians usually deal with cases of memory loss.Subsequently, they may refer the patient to specialists such aspsychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. Practitionersdetermine a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s after eliminating otherconditions (Alzheimer’s, 2017). Medical history can reveal aperson’s exposure to the disease. The presence of Alzheimer’s orother dementias in family members acts as a primary indicator.Practitioners must evaluate the person’s mental status and mood todetermine memory capabilities (Alzheimer’s, 2017). Neurologicalexams help to highlight the possibility of brain disorders thatimpede memory.
TestingResults and Aftermath
The physician must schedule an appointment to inform the patient ofhis or her conclusions. In this regard, the doctor explains why thediagnosis was made and future implications. The patient isresponsible for determining the professional who may serve as theprimary care physician (Alzheimer’s, 2017). A schedule ofappointments is usually drafted to help the person make progressiveimprovements. Practitioners usually determine how to provide a safeenvironment for continuous care. Family members must be involved tohelp the person cope with changes in their physical and mentalabilities (Alzheimer’s, 2017). The progression of Alzheimer’screates the need for increasing levels of personal care.
The early onset of Alzheimer’s usually causes problems with memory.In this respect, the individual may struggle to remember names.Objects may be misplaced with alarming regularity. Other difficultiesmay occur in organizing, planning, and performing menial tasks.Middle-stage Alzheimer’s makes it difficult for the person toexpress thoughts clearly. The latter stage can manifest throughfrequent bouts of frustration and anger. Patients can remain inMiddle-stage Alzheimer’s for many years. Primary caregivers arealways prepared to tolerate the patient when the latter displaysunexpected behaviors (Alzheimer’s, 2017). Persons with Alzheimer’scan forget about important aspects of their history. Moodiness iscommon in situations that are socially challenging.
Behavioral and personality changes cause the person to manifestcompulsive behavior and delusions. 60% of people with Alzheimer’swander and get lost since they forget their surroundings(Alzheimer’s, 2017). Moreover, such people need help to choose andwear proper clothing. Some individuals struggle to control theirbowels. Late-stage Alzheimer’s is associated with constant care andincreased susceptibility to infections. Patients may experiencefundamental changes in their bodies such that they struggle toswallow, sit, and walk. Recent events may quickly disappear frommemory while communicating is quite impossible.
In the film Away From Her, Grant and Fiona Anderson wereseparated after the latter was admitted into a nursing home. Fionasuffered frequent lapses of memory that were diagnosed as Alzheimer’sdisease (Polley, Christie, Pinsent, & Dukakis, 2007). Grant couldnot take proper care of his wife since he was quite elderly. Fiona’smemory problems posed a danger to herself. She was prevented fromseeing any patients for 30 days after checking into the facility(Polley et al., 2007). Such provisions were created to allow patientsto acclimatize to her new surroundings. While in the nursing home,Fiona forgot her husband and developed a romantic attachment to afellow resident at the facility (Polley et al., 2007). This wasbecause her condition had progressed further into late-stageAlzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible since the death of neurons isnot clearly understood. Notwithstanding, drugs and other therapiescan cure behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Practitioners monitor allforms of treatment to evaluate the progress of Alzheimer’s. It isimportant to respect a person’s choices of treatment and care.Drugs such as Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine are used torelieve cognitive symptoms (Alzheimer’s, 2017). Non-drug treatmentsinclude the provision of new caregivers. Practitioners can alsoarrange for different living arrangements to allow the patient tobenefit from a new environment. The addition of more clients at thefacility can inspire a change in demeanor and outlook. Eldercare canensure that adults live longer even after the onset of debilitatingsymptoms (Berk, 2016). Consequently, nursing homes can ensure properoutcomes for their clients.
Indeed, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most dangerous conditionsfor persons over 65 years of age. Many patients experience extendedperiods of memory loss and confusion. They may also struggle toperform instrumental activities of daily living. Practitioners mustdevelop strategies to help patients cope with physical and mentalchanges. Primary caregivers in nursing homes should treat Alzheimer’spatients with extreme caution to avoid injuries. In particular, thenursing home must be decluttered to facilitate the movement ofelderly residents. Eliminating hazards and other unnecessary itemscan reduce the risk of suffering falls. In this regard, toilet seatscan be fitted with handrails while residential grab bars can beinstalled to facilitate movement. Nurses should also be patient andtolerant when patients manifest lapses in memory. Repetitiveinstructions can help to reinforce good behaviors. Consequently,practitioners can improve the quality of life of patients withAlzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s, A. (2017). Alzheimer`s disease. Retrieved fromhttps://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_basicsofalz_low.pdf
Berk, L. E. (2016). Socioemotional Development in Late Adulthood. InDevelopment through the lifespan. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Pearson.
Polley, S., Christie, J., Pinsent, G., & Dukakis, O. (2007). Awayfrom her. La fabrique de films [éd].
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