Don't you forget

AGE WITH DIGNITY

Don't you forget

With the advent of latest advances in the field of medicine, the life spans of the general population have prolonged. But, this has also resulted in an increase in the number of people with non-communicable diseases, including dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Although dementia (like Alzheimer’s) mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of ageing. It is a syndrome, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory,
thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia is overwhelming not only for the people who have it, but also for their caregivers and families.
 
Alzheimer’s disease can be symptomatically staged in three categories:

Early stage (one to two years): The symptoms include problems in talking properly (language problems), becoming lost in familiar places, having difficulty making decisions, showing mood changes, depression or anxiety, and loss of interest in hobbies and activities.

Middle stage (two to five years):

Limitations become pronounced and more restricting. There is difficulty with day-to-day living and the individual may become extremely dependent on their family and caregivers. They might even need help with matters of basic personal hygiene.

Late stage (after five years): The individual nears total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are very serious by this stage. The patients have difficulty in
eating and walking; bladder and bowel incontinence are common; the patients will probably be confined to a wheelchair or bed.

Despite these difficulties, Alzheimer’s can be managed by adhering to certain measures:
n Diagnosis is done mainly on the basis of clinical history with supportive investigation by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Regular exercises, good physical activity, cognitively stimulating activities like
regular reading habits, solving crossword puzzles, stress-free lifestyle and a healthy and balanced diet are all very important.

Diabetes, blood pressure and other morbidities should be kept under control.

Early pharmacological treatment may help better control of symptoms and delay the major symptoms. Donepezil, ivastigmine, galantamine and memantine are some of the effective medications used in the treatment.

(The author is senior consultant, eurology, Jaypee Hospital, Noida)

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