Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder in which there is a progressive decaying of brain tissue. It is characterised by a decline in mental and emotional capabilities, and may also be referred to as dementia. The incidence of severe dementia in the population over the age of 65 is estimated to be about 5%, with moderate dementia in about 10% of aged persons. Over 50% of these cases are considered to have Alzheimer’s disease.
The first symptoms generally include a tendency to misplace things with disorientation, confusion, inattention, loss of memory of recent events and inability to retain new information. Mood changes, including depression, paranoia, agitation, anxiety, selfishness and childish behaviour may also appear.
Memory, comprehension, and speech deteriorate in a person affected by this disease. The person’s world begins to change as they cannot function as they once had – simple arithmetic skills may become impossible as may keeping their attention on one thing for too long.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often become lost and may quite frequently wander off causing havoc for their families. Eventually, the person may become totally introverted, not able to communicate, helpless and incontinent.
Many people develop Alzheimer’s as they grow older, however the disease should not be viewed as a normal part of the ageing process.
The gradual loss of brain function that characterises Alzheimer’s disease seems to be due to neural damage in which nerve fibres become tangled, and protein deposits known as plaques build up in the affected tissue. These plaques are associated with high levels of aluminium, although it is not yet known whether this is a cause or result of the Alzheimer’s disease.
In a minority of cases, head trauma may be a contributing factor – approximately 15 percent of Alzheimer’s sufferers have a history of head injury.
- Avoid eating deep fried foods and other foods with saturated fats such as fast food and butter.
- Try to eat more fish and fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Avoid salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
- Drink plenty of filtered water every day.
When caring for a person with Alzheimer’s it may be helpful to:
- Maintain a stable and familiar household.
- Have the patient wear an ID bracelet with a phone number on it.
- Talk to the Alzheimer’s patient about memories or positive events that happened long ago. It will be something they can remember and recall.
- Contact a support group or professional association to help you and the patient cope.
Until the link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease is better understood, it is wise to avoid using cookware or antiperspirants containing aluminium.
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious condition which should be treated by your healthcare professional.
If someone in your family is displaying symptoms of this disease, consultation with your healthcare professional is advised.
Caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is often very stressful for family members. Assistance and counselling is often valuable for carers.