Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia; it is a degenerative illness that affects over 400,00 people in the UK. Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people over the age of 60, but it may develop in younger people. Alzheimer’s affects the nerves, brain cells and neurotransmitters; this causes bundles (also known as plaques) of protein to form around the brain cells; over time, the bundles start to destroy links between the brain cells which causes the condition to get worse.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown; however, experts have identified a number of possible risk factors, including:
- Age: the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age
- Family history
- Head injuries
- Having Down’s syndrome
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are often similar to a number of other health conditions; consequently, it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. Symptoms vary according to the individual patient and the severity of their condition; common symptoms include:
- Changes in mood
- Lack of concentration
- Mild speech problems
- Obsessive behaviour
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Severe confusion
- Complete memory loss
- Becoming suspicious of others
- Difficulty moving around
- Loss of appetite (and subsequent weight loss)
- Trouble with swallowing
- Increased risk of developing other illnesses and infections
Treatment for Alzheimer’s
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but treatment can be used to ease symptoms. Treatment usually involves medication, which can be used to treat symptoms and delay the progression of the condition. Medication helps to slow down the progression by preventing the breakdown of chemicals in the brain. People with severe Alzheimer’s may require a great deal of care.