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World Alzheimer’s Day: What Special Care Is Needed In This Brain Disorder?

World Alzheimer's Day 2022: Everything You Need To Know About This Brain Disorder

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : September 21, 2022 6:43 PM IST

World Alzheimer's Day 2022: Alzheimer's is a progressive neurologic disorder that leads to mental deterioration due to brain degeneration. As we grow, our brain undergoes various changes such as shrinkage or atrophy, inflammation, vascular damage, etc. In addition, the production of unstable molecules is called 'free radicals', and energy production breakdown also occurs within the brain cells. Therefore, when a person has Alzheimer's, the brain cells start to degenerate, eventually destroying one's memory. Alzheimer's is, thus, one of the most common forms of dementia, leading to a continuous decline in a person's thinking, behavioural and social skills. Dr Shabnam Mir, Consultant Physician and Head Clinical Operation at Antara shares the need for specialized care to treat Alzhiemer's.

Causes Of Alzheimer's

Even though old age is the most common risk factor for Alzheimer's, other aspects, such as family history and genetics, also play a significant role and may lead to dementia.

Types Of Alzheimer's

  1. Late-Onset Alzheimer's: Late-onset is the most common type of Alzheimer's disease. As the name suggests, the symptoms of this type become apparent at a later stage in life (about age). While no specific gene has been recognized to directly cause the late-onset form of Alzheimer's, having one form (or allele) of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene on chromosome 19 could be a genetic factor and increase a person's risk. It is a complex genetic disorder with an estimated heritability of 60% to 80%.
  2. Early Onset Alzheimer's: Early onset of Alzheimer's can start appearing as early as 30 years up to 60. This type is rare and represents less than 10% of all people living with Alzheimer's worldwide. Gene changes are usually caused it passed down through generations. There is ongoing research to identify additional genetic risk variants for early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

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Symptoms Of Alzheimer's

As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen, making it difficult for a person to remember recent events or conversations. Memory loss and confusion are two main symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. In the advanced stage of Alzheimer's, symptoms such as memory loss, the ability to make decisions and judgements, and changes in personality like social isolation, mood swings, and irritability appear and become increasingly problematic. However, even though no specific cure exists, proper medication and management strategies may temporarily improve the condition.

Alzheimer's Care

Caring for an Alzheimer's patient is challenging and requires a lot of patience. Increasingly so if family handles caregiving duties with support only from the informal sector. To ensure the best results, caregivers should focus on these four factors; reliability, safety, independence, and living with dignity.

The Need For Specialized Care

  • While informal sector care is most prevalent in India, Alzheimer's patients need specialized care, which includes constant cognitive stimulation and engagement. Providing an integrated care ecosystem may be harder for the family or untrained caregivers but is readily offered in a specialized care set-up. In addition, the behaviour related to Alzheimer's requires continuous intervention, which is handled better in a technical care centre.
  • Additionally, the continuous care being given to patients can be demanding. Therefore, the caregiver must be trained in managing Alzheimer-related behaviour. Compassionate caregivers with good communication skills could help in patient care.

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