What Is Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the brain causing loss of memory or serious mental deterioration. Little is known about the cause of this disorder, but research shows that nerve endings in the cortex of the brain degenerate and disrupt the passage of electrochemical signals between the cells.

What are the symptoms? There are many patterns in the type, severity, and sequence of mental changes in AD. Usually, the symptoms are progressive but vary greatly in the rate of change from person to person. In a few cases, there may be rapid mental deterioration, but often, there are long periods in which little change is noted. However, the progressive deterioration which occurs is a source of deep concern and frustration for both the victim and the family.

As the disease progresses, the changes in the nerve cells produce simple forgetfulness and increasingly more noticeable memory loss. Changes in thought, language, personality, and behavior can eventually render the person incapable of taking care of himself or communicating his needs to others.

What is the Treatment? Medical care can relieve many of the symptoms of AD but prevention or cure of the disease is not known. Counseling can help the victim and his family in coping with the illness. A neurologist, psychiatrist, or family physician should closely monitor treatment and have the time and interest to answer the variety of questions that arise. Medication can be prescribed to improve sleeping patterns. Proper nutrition, exercise and physical therapy can aid difficulties that arise in physical functioning. Social contacts should be encouraged. A list of daily tasks, written reminders, and safety measures can assist the individual in day-to-day living. It is best to maintain an ordered environment so that the afflicted person does not have to continuously learn new things.