Alzheimer’s disease progressively erodes the memory and cognitive abilities of the elderly. In most people, early onset occurs in the mid-60s, which affects older people and caregivers emotionally, physically, and psychologically.
In this exploration, we’ll get deeper into the details of Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts the elderly and caregivers in navigating the challenging path.
Insights into Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease, a kind of Dementia, is a brain disorder that causes memory loss and other mental difficulties in older adults. The disease causes a progressive decline in memory, thinking, and behavior. According to “WHO”, Almost 50-60% of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Older people with Alzheimer’s Disease experience:
- Repeating statements over and over.
- Forgetting conversations or events more often.
- Misplacing items
- Keeping items in places that don’t make any sense.
- Forgetting the names of family members and everyday objects.
- Finding the right words to express thoughts.
The Unpredictable Onset
Alzheimer’s disease onset timeline varies from person to person but typically becomes common in older persons. Older people, before progressing to Alzheimer’s disease, experience mild cognitive impairment, which ultimately leads to a rapid cognitive decline.
The Devastating Impact
Alzheimer’s disease occurs due to changes in the brain, which leads to a progressive decline, eventually interfering with daily tasks. As the disease progresses, round-the-clock care becomes inevitable, placing an immense physical and emotional burden on individuals and caregivers.
The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease are:
- Preclinical stage
- Mild, early stage
- Moderate, middle stage
- Severe, late-stage
Unraveling the Underlying Causes
The exact cause leading to Alzheimer’s disease isn’t known, but a combination of genetic, lifestyle, & environmental factors and disruptions in the functioning of the brain cells result in the development of Alzheimer’s in the elderly. The possible causes of Alzheimer’s are:
- Age: As you age and reach 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s becomes high.
- Gender: The chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease in women are higher than in men.
- Genetics: People with a parent or sibling suffering from Alzheimer’s are more likely to have the disease.
- Down Syndrome: Patients with Down syndrome have an increased chance of getting Down syndrome.
- Other factors: High blood pressure and cholesterol levels raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The Impact of Lifestyle Factors
The lifestyle factors that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease are:
- Mindful Eating: The dietary habits profoundly impact one’s health, especially as you age. Consuming a diet rich in processed foods, sugar, and trans fats can elevate the risk of Alzheimer’s among older individuals by 14%. Keep saturated fats in check and choose a diet full of nutrients, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. This dietary shift not only promotes overall health but also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Stay Active, Stay Sharp: Maintaining an active lifestyle is key, particularly for the elderly. A sedentary lifestyle can make older adults more susceptible to cognitive decline. Engaging in regular physical activities improves blood flow and triggers the release of neuroprotective chemicals in the brain. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Prioritize Quality Sleep: Sleep quality plays a pivotal role in maintaining cognitive health. Poor sleep patterns, including conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea, can lead to cognitive impairment. It’s essential to aim for a restful 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Quality sleep not only rejuvenates your body but also helps safeguard your cognitive well-being.
The Impact on Families and Caregivers
Alzheimer’s disease is among the most challenging conditions that affects families and caregivers to a larger extent. Here are some of the emotional, physical, and psychological factors that take a toll on caregivers and families on Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
- Emotional Strain: Caregivers experience a rollercoaster of emotions on seeing a gradual decline in the elders with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Physical Demands: The caregivers have to provide care to elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It is physically demanding, especially as the disease progresses, and can take a toll on the caregiver’s well-being, impacting their own health.
- Financial Burden: The costs associated with medical care and potentially professional caregiving services place a significant financial burden on the caregivers. Balancing these expenses alongside other financial responsibilities is quite challenging for the caregivers.
- Social Isolation: The caregivers feel socially isolated and disconnected from the outside world.
Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of elderly and their families worldwide. To navigate the challenging landscape of Alzheimer’s disease, it is recommended to support the elderly, caregivers, and the tireless researchers dedicated to finding a cure. In this way, it will unlock the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease and develop effective treatments and preventive measures.