alzheimer’s disease

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what is alzheimer’s disease?

We often think about this oft-used term and wonder what is Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s is a progressive degeneration of one’s brain that causes it to shrink in size and the brain cell’s death. One of the main causes of dementia, it impacts brain functions and interferes with a person’s ability to think, organise, communicate, and perform daily activities in the worst case. 

While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, it is mostly caused due to an excessive buildup of proteins such as Amyloid and Tau, around the brain cells. These proteins lead to toxicity, plaque buildup, and tangles within the brain cells. Besides this, other Alzheimer’s diseases causes may include:

  • Genetics
  • Increasing age
  • Family history of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
  • Dependence on smoking and alcohol
  • Poor nutrition 
  • Obesity
  • Conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, Down’s syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
  • Constant exposure to high pollution levels
  • Head injury
  • Irregular sleep patterns

Alzheimer’s disease progresses in three stages, known as mild, moderate, and severe, and affects everyone differently. The life expectancy averages between 4 to 8 years after the diagnosis, but some people have lived for as long as 20 years.

what are the symptoms of alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease causes brain changes that primarily impact one’s memory, reasoning, judgement capability, thinking, planning, and performing tasks. These symptoms bring about a systematic change in personality and behaviour.

However, every affected person experiences different Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. This depends on the condition’s stage, age, and general health. 

Here are the stage-wise signs of Alzheimer’s:

Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s: At this stage of Alzheimer’s, the person still functions independently and their symptoms are not very apparent. But family members and close friends may still find something to be out of place in the person’s behaviour.

  • Inability to come up with the right terms for things
  • Forgetting what was just read
  • Losing objects
  • Feeling awkward in social gatherings and unable to strike conversations
  • Inability to organize work

Middle-stage or moderate Alzheimer’s: This is the longest stage in which the damage to the brain cells increases. This leads to the person’s symptoms becoming more palpable. 

  • Not remembering one’s early life
  • Inability to express one’s thoughts
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Not recalling the year, month, or the date
  • Inability to sleep
  • Being unable to recall one’s address or phone number
  • Having trouble controlling their bowel movements
  • Wandering around and losing one’s way
  • Becoming suspicious of people, hallucinating, exhibiting repetitive behaviour
  • Showing repetitive behaviour such as constant wriggling of hands, tearing up paper, tugging at their hair, etc. 

Late-stage or severe Alzheimer’s: This is the stage at which a person ceases to function independently and loses control of one’s external environment. When a patient reaches this stage, extensive care becomes a must.

  • Inability to bathe or use the washroom without assistance
  • Low awareness of one’s surroundings
  • Difficulty in communicating
  • Repeated infections such as pneumonia
  • Inability to walk, sit, and even swallow food.

how is alzheimer’s disease treated?

Once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease through a physical and neurological examination including brain imaging tests like CT scan and MRI, PET imaging, the process of Alzheimer’s disease treatment begins. 

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there are certain medications available that reduce the impact of the symptoms temporarily. These include:

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors: This drug preserves the chemical messengers in the brain and improves agitation, anxiety, and depression in the patient.
  • Memantine: This medication improves brain cell communication and slows down the symptoms’ progression. 

The treatment can take place either at a nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, or in the patient’s home through home health care. 

Given the complexity of the condition, home health care is one of the best ways to approach it. This helps in getting together a trained team of experts to monitor the patient in a familiar and comfortable environment. When a patient is surrounded by familiar faces, he/she becomes easier to communicate with and responds faster to treatment. 

who are the specialists involved in the treatment of alzheimer’s?

Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient at home requires a specialised team who understands this complicated condition. This includes:

  • Geriatrician who manages health issues specifically in older adults. 
  • Neurologist who is a specialist in nervous system diseases.
  • Psychiatrist to manage the patient’s emotional and behavioural condition.
  • Speech and language therapist who helps Alzheimer’s patients in expressing themselves. 
  • Physical therapist to maintain the patient’s reflexes and create an exercise program.
  • Nutritionist who advises dietary changes in tandem with the patient’s lifestyle.
  • Companion who supervises the patient’s recreational activities and daily schedule.
  • Personal care service provider to help with dressing, eating, using the washroom, and more.
  • Medical professional to help with daily medicines, dressing of wounds, coordinating with the doctor, etc. 

how portea helps?

Managing a complex condition such as Alzheimer’s can be pretty stressful not just for the patient but for the immediate family too. Shifting the patient to a nursing home or hospital may not always be an option, especially when finances and personal preferences are taken into account.

That’s where Portea, the country’s largest and the most credible home healthcare company comes in. We are adept at offering long-term care for the elderly and meeting their safety, nutritional, and medical needs through nursing attendants and other specialists. We help by:

  • Bringing the best of medical, neurological, and personal care support for the patient in the comfort of their home. 
  • We offer the services such as that of a homemaker, nutritionist, psychologist, registered nurse, occupational and speech therapist, etc. to meet all the possible needs of the patient. 
  • We offer the services of trained professionals who are experienced in treating issues such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Since our nursing attendants visit at home, the patient’s need to travel, and the risk of injuries gets minimised. This also helps in saving on travel costs.
  • Getting home health care through Portea and its packages is more economical vis-à-vis an admission in the hospital.
  • With our staff visiting at home, the caregivers are reassured of the patient’s management from a professional and capable healthcare service. 
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