The Alzheimer disease (EA) Is a disease that has as main characteristic the degeneration of the parts of the brain.
Thus, Alzheimer's is a progressive, slow-onset dementia that begins in adulthood, and in which the first symptoms that occur Are the failures in memory.
However, memory failures are not the only ones that occur in EE. Let's explain how it works:
The EE begins with a degeneration of the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory, so the first symptoms that are presented are Frequent forgetfulness, inability to learn and mnesic failures.
Nevertheless, it is a progressive disease, reason why the degeneration of the neurons gradually advances until affecting all the parts of the brain.
Therefore, after the first symptoms in memory, as the disease progresses, all other faculties will be lost.
These powers will start as deficits in cognitive processes Such as attention, reasoning ability or orientation, and will end up Being the totality of the person's functions, until the person is totally incapable of performing any activity.
And it is that the degeneration advances until arriving at those zones of the brain that are in charge to carry out actions as simple as the control of Sphincters, the ability to articulate words or be self-conscious.
Thus, relating Alzheimer's with memory loss is a mistake, since although it is the main symptom of this disorder, Alzheimer's implies many other things.
Thus, in my opinion, it would be much more useful for the interpretation of this disease, to understand it as a gradual degeneration of the brain Human (and therefore of the person who suffers) rather than relating it to memory loss.
In this article You can know the main consequences of Alzheimer's.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
The most prototypical symptoms of AD are those that shape the definition of dementia .
Thus the symptoms par excellence of this disorder are those that produce the deterioration of the cognitive functions, especially of the memory.
Let's go and see them.
It is the main symptom of AD and the first one that appears. The first symptoms are usually inability to learn things and forget about recent things.
As the disease progresses, memory failures are spreading, affecting the memory Remote, forgetting things of the past until Forget about everything.
Deterioration of language
Language is a cognitive function very linked to memory since we must remember the words to be able to speak normally, so that people Who suffer from AD also have difficulty speaking.
The first symptoms are usually the presence of anomia when not remembering the name of words while speaking, this causes you to lose verbal fluency, More and more slowly and more difficult to express themselves.
Deterioration of orientation
The problems are also very typical to be oriented properly, being able to present already at the beginning of the illness.
The first type of disorientation that usually appears is spatial disorientation, a person with Alzheimer's will have many difficulties to orient themselves more Beyond your home or neighborhood, or you will be totally unable to just go down the street.
Subsequently, temporary disorientation usually occurs, having enormous difficulties to remember the day, the month, the season or even the year in the That is lived, and personal disorientation, forgetting who it is, how it is and what defines it.
Impairment of executive functions
Executive functions are those Brain functions That set in motion, organize and integrate the rest of functions.
Thus, a person suffering from EA is losing the ability to become a simple fried egg, because despite having the ability to take a pan, Breaking an egg or pouring oil, loses the ability to organize all those steps properly to get a fried egg.
This deterioration is, along with the forgetfulness that can be dangerous in many moments, the first symptom that makes the person with Alzheimer loses autonomy and needs others to live with normality.
Praxias are the functions that allow us to start our body to perform a concrete function.
For example: it allows us to take a scissors and get cut a leaf with it, greet our neighbor with the hand when we see him enter or wrinkle the When we want to express anger.
In the EA this ability are also lost, so that being able to carry out activities will become more complicated... Now it is not that we do not know Make a fried egg, but we do not even know to take the pan properly!
Gnosis is defined as alterations in the recognition of the world, either by visual, auditory or tactile.
The first difficulty of this type that usually appears in Alzheimer's usually becomes the ability to recognize complex stimuli.
However, as the disease progresses, difficulties often appear to recognize faces of friends or acquaintances, everyday objects, organization Of space, etc.
These are the 6 cognitive failures that usually occur in Alzheimer's... And what else? Are there more symptoms or are these all? Well, yes, more symptoms appear!
And it is that cognitive failures, the fact that the person loses his abilities that have defined his whole life, usually involves the appearance of A series of psychological and behavioral symptoms.
The psychological symptoms may be delusional ideas (especially the idea that someone steals things, caused by the inability to remember where Leave objects), hallucinations, misidentification, apathy Y anxiety .
As far as behavioral symptoms are concerned, vagrancy, agitation, sexual disinhibition, negativism (absolute rejection of Doing things), outbursts of anger and aggression.
Why does the brain degenerate into Alzheimer's?
To the question why Alzheimer's develops in a person's brain, there is still no answer today.
As in all degenerative diseases it is unknown why at any given moment a part of the body begins to degenerate.
However, it does know something about what happens in the brain of a person with AD and what are the changes that make the neurons of that brain They begin to die.
The scientist Braak demonstrated that the disease begins in the Entorhinal cortex , Extends through the hippocampus (Major memory structures of the human brain) and
Later, as if it were an oil stain, the rest of the regions of the brain are affected.
But what happens in those regions of the brain?
Until what is known today, degeneration would be caused by the appearance of neuritic plaques in neurons.
These plaques are created by a protein called b-amyloid, so an overproduction of this protein in neurons could be the pathological element Of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Risk Factors
At present, it is generally recognized that AD is a multifactorial, heterogeneous and irreversible disease, requiring a Combination of genetic and environmental factors for its development.
The basic substrate may be accelerated neuronal aging not counteracted by the compensatory mechanisms it contains Our brain .
In this way, genetic factors would only predispose the person to AD, and other factors would trigger the disease. These are the following:
Age: and S the main marker of risk of the disease, so that the prevalence increases as age increases, doubling each 5 years from 60
Sex: L Women suffer more from this disease than men.
Family history of dementia: and Between 40% and 50% of affected individuals have some family member who has or has had dementia.
Education: to Although AD can occur in people with any educational level, there is an increase in AD among subjects with less education.
Diet: or In very high calorie intake could be a risk factor for the disease. Likewise, polyunsaturated fatty acids and supplements Antioxidant vitamins (vitamins E and C) have demonstrated a neuroprotective role for AD.
How many people have Alzheimer's?
AD occurs in older people, usually as young as 65 years old. Thus, the incidence of this disease in the general population is low, approximately 2%.
However, in the elderly population the prevalence reaches up to 15%, increasing as the age increases. Among people over 85 years of age The prevalence reaches up to 30-40%, being the type of dementia more prevalent with difference.
The impact of Alzheimer's on the family
AD and dementia in general represent a notable change in family dynamics. Is about Learn to live with.... While continuing With family, personal and social life.
And is that the person who suffers from this disease will gradually stop being itself, lose the ability to self-care and will need care intensive.
The first step the family must take is to identify the primary caregiver of the patient, that is, the person who will be in charge of performing all those Functions that the patient loses.
Stress in the family and above all In the main caregiver Will be very high due to the emotional shock of assuming a situation like this, and the Work overload and economic that will mean having an Alzheimer's in the family.
It is therefore very important to have a good family organization so that the primary caregiver can get support from others when necessary.
Similarly, it is important to be well informed about existing social and therapeutic resources (day centers, residences, support groups for Families, etc.) and use them in the best possible way.
How is Alzheimer's treated?
If your first question to reach this section is if there is any treatment that cures this disease the answer is clear: no, there is no Therapy capable of curing Alzheimer's.
However, there are certain treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease, making the deficits take longer to Appear, and providing a better quality of life to the patient.
To date, the only drugs that have shown significant, but not yet effective, efficacy Cognitive and functional alterations Alzheimer's are the Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (IACE) such as Donepezil, Rivastigmine and Galantamine.
These drugs have shown effectiveness in the treatment of symptoms of AD, but in no case succeed in eliminating or increasing the capacity Cognitive aspects of the patient.
Cognitive therapy is widely recommended for AD. In fact, if you have dementia you are practically forced to perform some kind of Cognitive work to mitigate your deficits.
To do this, Reality Orientation Therapies, Reminiscence Therapy and psychostimulation workshops are recommended. Cognitive functions: attention, memory, language, executive functions, etc.
What do you know about this disease? Share it with us to help readers Thanks a lot!
- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION (APA). (2002). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. [Links]
- Baquero, M., Blasco, R., Campos-García, A., Garces, M., Fages, E. M., Andreu-Català, M. (2004). Descriptive study of behavioral disorders in the
Mild cognitive impairment. Rev neurol; (38) 4: 323-326 .
- Carrasco, M.M., Artaso, B. (2002). The overload of relatives of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In Institute of Psychiatric Research. Mª Josefa Recio Foundation Aita Menni Mondragón Hospital (Guipúzcoa ). San Psychiatric Hospital
Francisco Javier. Pamplona.
- Conde Sala, J.L. (2001). Family and dementia. Support and regulation interventions . Barcelona: University of Barcelona.
- López, A., Mendizoroz, I. (2001). CONDUCTUAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS IN DEMENTIA: CLINICAL AND ETIOLOGICAL ASPECTS.
- Martí, P., Mercadal, M., Cardona, J., Ruiz, I., Sagristá, M., Mañós, Q. (2004). Non-pharmacological intervention in dementias and
Alzheimer's: miscellaneous. In J, Deví., J, God, Dementias and Alzheimer's disease: a practical and interdisciplinary approach (559-587).
Barcelona: Higher Institute of Psychological Studies.
- Martorell, M.A. (2008). Looking at the mirror: Reflections on the identity of the person with Alzheimer. In Romaní, O., Larrea, C., Fernández, J. Anthropology of medicine, methodology and interdisciplinarity: from theories to academic and professional practices (Pp. 101-118).
Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
- Slachevsky, A., Oyarzo, F. (2008). Dementias: history, concept, classification and clinical approach. In E, Labos., A, Slachevsky., P, Fuentes., E,
Manes Treaty of Clinical Neuropsychology. Buenos Aires: Akadia.
- Vilalta Franch, J . NON-COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA . I Virtual Congress of Psychiatry February 1 - March 15, 2000 [cited: *]; Conference 18-CI-B: [23 screens]. Available at: http://www.psiquiatria.com/congreso/mesas/mesa18/conferencias/18_ci_by.
- Image source 3.