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Alzheimer'S Disease - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2023

What is Alzheimer's Diseases ?

Alzheimer's disease is a neurological condition. It is characterized by cognitive decline and memory loss due to the death of brain cells. This disease starts off mild and gets worse as it progressively. Alzheimer's disease is a very common form type of dementia. Alzheimer's disease cannot be cured, but treatment can help reduce the symptoms of alzheimers.

What are the 5 stages of Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a gradual and progressive neurological abnormality that eventually causes atrophy and death of brain cells. It commonly causes dementia which leads to a declined tendency of the person to think, behave and socialize. Based upon Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, it has been classified into five stages that include:

  • Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • A mild form of dementia
  • A moderate form of dementia
  • Severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease
Summary: Based on the severity of signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it is classified into five stages mainly. Preclinical, impairment of cognitive ability, mild to moderate and severe dementia are the different stages.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms start to appear after the preclinical stage that continues for a decade or more. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary from person to person but typically include:

  • Mild cognitive impairment: Memory loss is the first sign of cognitive impairment in the early stages. Symptoms related to other cognitive aspects such as vision, spatial issues, word-finding, and lack of ability to judge may also be experienced in such stages.

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive and may be accompanied by the following stages:

  • Mild dementia: Memory loss, lack of ability to judge, taking more than normal time to do regular tasks, anxiety, mood, and personality changes, etc. are the common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms experienced in this stage.
  • Moderate dementia: This stage is associated with increased memory loss, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, repetition in statements or movements, etc.
  • Severe dementia: Seizures, lack of communication, skin infections, loss of bladder or bowel control, weight loss, etc. are some severe forms of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms faced during this stage.
Summary: Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive and start as mild cognitive impairment in the early stages. This is followed by mild, moderate, and severe stages of dementia associated with increased severity of the symptoms.

What age can you get Alzheimer disease?

Alzheimer's disease commonly affects old-aged individuals. But in certain cases, individuals in their 30s or 40s have also been seen to suffer from the disease. This early form which is known to occur under the age of 65 years is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

It is rare as only a smaller proportion of the affected individuals have early-onset, most of them being in their 40s or 50s.

Summary: Alzheimer's mainly affects people after the age of 60 years. But in certain cases, although rare, it also shows early-onset affecting the individuals in their 30s or 40s.

What causes/happens Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer's disease occurs when the brain cells start to die. The size of the brain shrinks to a great extent. The brain tissue has very few connections and nerve cells. A postmortem/autopsy can only show the tiny inclusions inside the nerve tissues. This is called tangles and plaques. Plaques are formed due to the build-up of a substance called beta-amyloid (amyloid plaques). The tangles of the brain neurons are formed due to the disintegration of a protein called tau. According to researchers, alzheimer's disease goes way beyond protein abnormalities. alzheimer's disease makes it difficult to recognize faces and objects. The most prominent sign includes problem-solving, judgment and reasoning. A form of dementia called vascular dementia is caused due to a traumatic incident such as stroke, is the most common type of dementia after alzheimer's disease.

Stages of alzheimer's disease:

  • Preclinical (no symptoms or signs)
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Dementia

Risk factors of developing alzheimer's disease:

  • Age- This disorder usually affects people who are older than 85 years old. Studies also prove that many people in the age group of 65 years suffer from alzheimer's disease more often.
  • Family history- Scientists have proved the fact that alzheimer's disease can be inherited in the genes. If your family member has alzheimer’s, you are more likely to develop it when you become older.
  • A certain gene- A gene called APOE or E gene makes a person more susceptible in developing alzheimer's disease more than a person who doesn’t have this strain of gene.

Avoidable factors that can cause alzheimer's disease:

  • Diseases like high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes can increase your risk of developing alzheimer's disease.
  • Occupational and low educational attainment.
  • Traumatic head injuries.
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can also cause alzheimer's disease.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, brain plaques, gum diseases and people with rosacea are more prone to developing alzheimer's disease.

How is Alzheimer's Disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis is an important part of Alzheimer's disease treatment. It is performed by a specialized neurologist with the proper cooperation of the patient as well as a close family member or friend. Steps involved in it include:

  • Examination of the patient: In this step, the patient is examined physically and he/she is made to talk about the symptoms being faced. A close family member or friend is also asked about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease being experienced and their impact on the daily life of the patient.
  • Diagnostic tests: Certain diagnostic tests are important to assess the cognitive skills of the patient. These include laboratory and imaging tests that help the doctor identify the disease and get a better understanding of it.
Summary: The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is based upon a detailed assessment of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This is done with proper examination of the patient, followed by certain diagnostic laboratory and imaging tests.

How to prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease prevention is not possible since the exact cause of this neurological disorder is yet to be discovered. However, some healthy lifestyle choices may help to reduce the associated risks.

Ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease may include:

  • Minimizing the risks of cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular diseases are indirectly linked with the initiation of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and vascular dementia. Hence, such risks should be minimized by improving cardiac health. Physical exercises, a healthy diet, and quitting alcohol or smoking are some of the common ways we can prefer in this direction.
  • Reducing the effects of other risk factors: Certain factors such as hearing loss, loneliness, depression, sedentary lifestyle, etc. are indirectly associated with dementia. These should be modified or managed.
  • Mental or social wellness: Staying mentally or socially more active reduces the risks of dementia. It may be achieved by reading, indulging in group sports or activities, learning foreign languages, playing music, etc.
Summary: Although Alzheimer’s disease prevention is not possible, the associated risks can be minimized. Maintaining cardiovascular health, certain lifestyle changes, and mental or social activities are some of the preferred ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Can Alzheimer's Disease go away on its own?

Alzheimer’s disease cure has been a major challenge for scientists as the disease is a complex and progressive neurological disorder. No drugs or interventions are known till the time which can completely cure it.

However, with the advancements in the medical field and technology, several medicines and tests have been developed which enable us to have a better understanding of the disease.

Being progressive, Alzheimer's disease cannot be resolved spontaneously. It requires continuous treatment throughout life. The treatment can only slow the progress of the disease and may also help to improve the quality of life.

Summary: Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and lifelong neurological abnormality. The symptoms cannot be resolved on their own and can only be controlled and managed with continuous treatment throughout life.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease:

Alzheimer's disease can be diagnosed by performing tests to check neurological functions and by undergoing brain scans such s EEG, MRI and CAT scan.

Who is eligible for the Alzheimer's disease treatment?

Each and every individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are eligible for treatment. The treatment methods which mainly involve medications may increase Alzheimer's disease life expectancy but cannot cure it.

The disease involves a lifelong treatment strategy and may lead to complications if it is left untreated. Hence, treatment is necessary in all cases.

Summary: Treatment is imperative in all individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This is important so as to manage the symptoms throughout life, thus preventing any further complications.

Who is not eligible for the Alzheimer's disease treatment?

Treatment is needed in all cases to prevent a faster progression of Alzheimer’s disease untreated condition. This is also important to prevent risks of any further complications.

Hence, every individual suffering from a degenerative brain disorder is eligible for treatment irrespective of anything.

Summary: - Any individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is eligible for treatment. The disease is incurable and can be managed only with proper treatment strategies.

What are the Alzheimer's disease post-treatment guidelines?

Post-treatment guidelines include important preventive measures needed to manage the Alzheimer’s disease symptoms throughout the life of an individual. Some of them are:

  • Regular medical check-ups and follow up
  • Taking medicines on a regular basis throughout the life
  • Moral and emotional support from the family members
  • Proper care at home which include nutritional as well as physical care
Summary: Post-treatment guidelines are important in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These manage the associated symptoms as well as prevent the progression of the disease.

What to eat in Alzheimer's Disease?

A healthy diet cannot cure Alzheimer’s disease, but can surely ease the symptoms and prevent their worsening. Good nutrition enables the affected individual to improve their quality of life, thus enabling them to live in a better way. Some food items to be preferred in such conditions may include:

  • Fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables
  • Sources of whole grains and cereals
  • Proteins such as lean protein
  • Dairy products having low-fat content
  • Food items rich in low-sugar content
  • Foods having a low salt content
  • Adequate amount of water
Summary: Good nutrition not only ensures the better health of the individual but also enables the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to lead a better quality of life. Hence, a healthy and well-balanced diet is necessary during such health conditions.

What not to eat in Alzheimer's Disease?

Certain food items act as aggravating factors during neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, and hence should be strictly avoided. Some of them include:

  • Foods rich in high sugar content
  • Starchy food items
  • Packed and processed meat
  • Alcohol
  • Snacks including cookies, cakes, and pastries
  • Foods containing high-salt content
Summary: There are certain food items that act as aggravating factors and increase the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. Those food items include high sugary and starchy foods, packed and processed food items, etc.

What are side-effects of Alzheimer's Disease treatments?

Alzheimer’s disease treatment mainly involves the application of certain antipsychotic drugs. These medicines are helpful in treating symptoms such as aggression, hallucinations, agitation, and paranoia during the disease. But there are some side effects with the use of these drugs which may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion

These side effects may be more serious and life-threatening, especially in old-aged individuals. They may increase the risks of death associated with severe forms of dementia.

Summary: Alzheimer’s disease is usually treated with antipsychotic medicines. But these medicines may be associated with serious and life-threatening risks in older individuals.

Should I go to urgent care for Alzheimer's Disease?

It is better to keep the patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease at home keeping some advantages in mind. However, there may be certain conditions when there arises a need for urgent medical care for such patients.

They are admitted to nursing homes in such circumstances. Following are the conditions when Alzheimer’s patients should be taken under medical supervision:

  • When the patient has entered the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease: During this stage, the Alzheimer’s disease symptoms become severe and the suffering individuals are unable to function. They lose control of movement and also are unable to communicate.
  • When the patient is not getting proper care and attention at home: Alzheimer’s disease recovery requires the complete attention of the surrounding people or family members. One should be physically as well as emotionally capable of handling such patients.
Summary: Alzheimer’s disease cure is not possible but treatment can be done in order to slow down the progression of the disease. Most of the patients can be managed and cared for at home but severe cases need urgent medical care and attention.

How long does it take to recover from Alzheimer's Disease?

Complete recovery from Alzheimer’s disease is not possible as it is a lifelong degenerative neurological disorder. It is progressive in nature and no treatment methods can ever prevent its progression.

It is also quite uncertain that Alzheimer’s disease life expectancy can ever be increased by the ongoing treatment. Only the speed of disease progression can be slowed and the quality of life can be improved for the people suffering from such conditions.

Summary: Alzheimer’s disease is a lifelong health condition from which no one can recover completely. Progression of the disease can be slowed and quality of life can be improved depending upon the prognosis of the Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

What is the price of Alzheimer's Disease treatments in India?

Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly affecting the older population in our country. The disease cannot be cured and involves lifelong continuous treatment. Alzheimer’s disease cost of treatment includes the sum total of expenditure associated with periodic and regular consultation with specialists and the medications prescribed.

It is taken to be around INR 40,000 per month on an average which is quite expensive.

Summary: Alzheimer’s disease cost of treatment is considerably high and it is a lifelong expenditure. It should be done under proper medical supervision.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease:

Physical exercises are beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as they help to maintain normal functioning of the heart, muscles, or joints.

These keep them active throughout the day, maintaining healthy body weight as well. Sleeping habits and bowel movements are also regularized with exercises.

Exercises to be preferred in people experiencing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include:

  • Walking: A minimum of 30 minutes of walking should be preferred. This includes brisk walking mainly.
  • Basic exercises and stretching: These include warm-up exercises such as stretching or mild forms.
  • Regular physical activities: Simple home tasks should be preferred such as dusting, sweeping, gardening, walking through the lawn, etc.
  • Stationary biking
  • Use of stretching bands or soft rubber balls for exercising
Summary: Regular and mild forms of exercise are preferred for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These mainly include walking, stretching, stationary biking, yoga, and meditation.

Which is the best medicine for Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease medication cannot cure the disease but definitely helps to manage the related symptoms. They can be used to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in painful stages such as memory loss, thinking or reasoning problems, etc.

Based on research, important medicines for Alzheimer's disease which are prescribed by the doctor include:

  • Memantine
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors

These medicines are indicated in the specific stages of Alzheimer’s disease but not in the case of mild cognitive impairment which may be a consequence of the age-related neurological degradation.

Summary: Alzheimer’s disease medications are important for the management of progressive neurological degeneration. They help in the control and management of the condition.

Are the results of the Alzheimer's disease treatment permanent?

Alzheimer’s disease treatment mainly involves the management of the associated signs and symptoms with the application of medicines. Medicines such as Cholinesterase inhibitors, Memantine, etc.

help to slow the progression of symptoms like memory loss, loss of control of thinking and reasoning, etc. However, the results of treatment are not permanent as this is a lifelong neurological disorder.

Alzheimer’s disease untreated conditions can lead to the degeneration of brain cells at a faster rate, hence a continuous form of treatment is necessary for the whole life.

Summary: The results of the treatment are not permanent in the case of Alzheimer’s disease as it is an incurable brain disorder. Treatment should be continued till the whole life of the individual.

What are the alternatives to the Alzheimer's disease treatment?

Alzheimer’s disease cure is not possible but the associated symptoms can be managed by the application of certain medicines. There may be other alternatives to such treatment forms which may include:

  • Moral support from the family members, close friends, or relatives
  • Physical and emotional support from the peers
  • Proper care at home
  • Physical exercises and activities
  • Proper counseling and rehabilitation
Summary: The main treatment methods for Alzheimer’s disease include medications, however, there are some alternatives to this. Physical exercises and activities, moral and emotional support from the family members, etc. are some important ways to manage the condition.


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Written ByDr. Arun Sharma MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro SurgeryNeurology
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