Alzheimer’s is a progressive and incurable neurologic disorder that causes brain cells to die and the brain to shrink (atrophy). It is the most common form of dementia, which is defined as a progressive decline in cognitive, behavioural, and social skills. It can impair memory, reasoning, and other mental abilities and also affects a person’s ability to function independently.
Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 20% of the elderly population and is consistently ranked as one of the top three concerns of older adults.
Early Alzheimer’s screening and detection of dementia allow the individual to adjust to the diagnosis and actively participate in planning for the future. Preventive Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials are available near you.
Importance of early detection
Finding out what’s causing the symptoms can help people understand their condition better, get the right care, treatment, and support, and plan for the future.
Aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown. But on a fundamental level, brain proteins fail to function normally, which disrupts the work of brain cells (neurons) and sets off a chain reaction of toxic events. Neurons are damaged, their connections are severed, and they eventually die.
Alzheimer’s disease, according to research, is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. Two proteins are being studied by researchers, who are trying to understand the origin of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Plaques. Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment of a larger protein. When these fragments congregate, they appear to be toxic to neurons and disrupt cell-to-cell communication. These clusters combine to form larger deposits known as amyloid plaques, which also contain other cellular debris.
- Tangles. Tau proteins contribute to a neuron’s internal support and transport system, which transports nutrients and other essential materials. Tau proteins change shape and organise themselves into structures known as neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease. Tangles are toxic to cells and disrupt the transport system.
Also read: Understanding Alzheimer’s disease
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Many people experience mild forgetfulness or memory lapses as a natural part of the ageing process. We’ve all had trouble remembering a word or someone’s name. On the other hand, an individual suffering from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia will notice that such symptoms become more frequent and severe.
For example, any of us could lose track of where we put our car keys. Someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may leave the keys in an unusual location, such as the refrigerator. Or he or she may have forgotten what the keys were for.
Alzheimer’s disease usually progresses slowly, lasting two to twenty years on average. It is known to exist in a person’s body long before symptoms appear. This is referred to as the pre-clinical/pre-symptomatic stage by researchers. When symptoms do appear, they worsen as a person with Alzheimer’s progress from the early to the late stages of the disease.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from Alzheimer’s
Mild cognitive impairment is a state that exists between normal age-related memory loss and dementia. Individuals with MCI have memory problems but can still perform routine tasks. MCI frequently leads to Alzheimer’s disease, but not all MCI patients develop Alzheimer’s.
Mild (Stage 1)
People may experience the following symptoms early in their condition:
- A decline in speech and comprehension
- Minor memory loss and mood swings occur.
- Have trouble learning new things
- Although others may not notice, you are losing energy and spontaneity.
- They lose track of their thoughts in the middle of a sentence.
- Basic activities are still performed, but more complex tasks require assistance.
Moderate (Stage 2)
A person with Alzheimer’s disease begins to become disabled at this stage. They:
- Can recall distant events, but recent events are difficult for them to recall
- Have difficulty understanding the concepts of day, time, and location
- Forget old words, and they may invent new ones
- Might not recognise previously familiar faces.
Severe (Stage 3)
Alzheimer’s patients in their final stages:
- Are unable to chew or swallow
- Become bedridden, become susceptible to other illnesses
- Become increasingly unresponsive
- Have lost control over their body and require constant care
- Cannot recognise people
Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis
Since Alzheimer’s disease symptoms develop gradually, it can be challenging to detect a problem. Many people believe that memory issues are just a natural part of ageing. Additionally, people may not always be able to recognize memory changes due to the disease process itself. However, Alzheimer’s disease is not a “normal” aspect of ageing.
Early Early Alzheimer’s screening and detection, a core health strategy, is essential in providing people at risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias with access to information, care, and support. A timely and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can give people the best opportunity to receive any necessary treatment or support.
Early Alzheimer’s screening
In order to diagnose Alzheimer’s, doctors use tests to evaluate memory loss and other thinking abilities, determine functional capabilities, and spot behavioural changes. The doctor will assess the following during the screening process:
- Whether you have memory loss or poor cognitive skills
- Whether you experience alterations in your personality or actions
- Your memory or thinking changes or how severely they affect you
- How your cognitive issues affect your ability to carry on with daily life
In order to rule out any other potential cause of impairment, your doctor might recommend additional laboratory tests, brain imaging exams, or a thorough memory test. These tests can give doctors important data for diagnosis, such as excluding other illnesses that have symptoms that are similar. They might consult with friends and family to learn more about symptoms and behaviour.
What if Alzheimer’s disease is identified during the screening process?
Future treatments might then focus on the illness in its early stages, before irreversible brain damage or mental decline has taken place. Doctors can prescribe medication and non-medication interventions for Alzheimer’s patients to manage their symptoms.
Drugs that may slow the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities are frequently prescribed by doctors. Clinical trials may also be an option for you. In order to lessen the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on daily life, doctors can also teach you and your caregivers about ways to make your home safer, create routines, plan activities, and manage changes in skills.
Making changes to your home environment make it simpler to move around and remember daily tasks and help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible. Memory, problem-solving abilities, and language skills may also be supported by psychological treatments like cognitive stimulation therapy.
When a doctor informs you and your family members that you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they will assist you in understanding the disease, respond to your questions, and outline what to expect.
Revival’s role in early Alzheimer’s screening
To diagnose Alzheimer’s disease earlier, researchers are developing new diagnostic techniques.
Revival Research Institute is currently screening new tests in order to measure amyloid or tau levels in the blood that might be able to detect the disease before any symptoms even appear., These tests hold great promise for identifying those who are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by memory loss and cognitive decline caused by the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain. Some of the first symptoms of this condition include difficulty remembering recent events and recognising people.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease is now on the cutting edge of medical research. Researchers are working hard to learn everything they can about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. It is hoped that greater understanding will lead to the development of new tests and techniques to prevent this condition at its earliest.
You may Find Paid Clinical Trials in Michigan if you’re concerned about your memory or believe you might be at risk of developing this disease.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.