Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that affects the recent memory of its patients. While people might not remember the recent events, they will be able to describe past events without any problem. However, memory is not the only part that is affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Some other common symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be drastic mood swings, disorientation, finding it tough to do daily tasks, problems in physical coordination and communication issues.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is mainly caused by malfunction of the nerves or them being damaged or killed. Two abnormal structures are responsible for nerve damage, namely the plaque and the tangle. Plaques are layers or deposits of beta-amyloid, which form in between two nerve cells in the brain.
On the other hand, tangles are twisted fibers of a protein tau, which builds up inside the nerve cells. Generally, most people develop plaques and tangles, as they grow old. However, according to research, in case of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, they are more in number and grow in parts of the brain responsible for memory retention.
Does Alzheimer’s Cause Death?
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t directly cause death. However, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease might find it difficult to lead their daily life without any support, which might lead to death. The probability of a patient dying from other causes after being affected by Alzheimer’s disease is high in case he/she is above 80. If the patient is younger, he/she can live up to a decade or more depending on the living conditions.
Unfortunately, there is no known treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, although medicine can be given for alleviating any pain the patient is facing.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
The condition can be divided into three main phases
- Early stage where the person is capable of functioning independently with friends and families noticing changes
- Middle stage where the person requires more care with pronounced dementia symptoms
- Severe stage where the patient develops serious dementia and is unable to respond to or interact with his/her immediate surroundings. In this case the patient needs constant care.
Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
While Alzheimer’s is a cause of dementia in patients, it is not similar to dementia or partial memory loss. Additionally, the condition is not a normal part of aging but the major cause of the disease is aging, along with family history.
The condition worsens over time, where the patients first start off with dementia and then see a deterioration when the condition progresses.
In the US, Alzheimer’s is ranked as the sixth major cause of death. However, it ranks third after cancer and heart attack as a cause of death for elderly patients.
While Alzheimer’s doesn’t cause severe pain, it might cause afflicted individuals to become more violent, worried or emotional in general, especially during the later stages of the disease. At such time, these individuals need a caregiver who can be understanding and patient. In some cases, medicines can be used to calm the patient down or alleviate the condition temporarily unless the situation is resolved.