In a fairly general way we can agree to say that aging is not always pleasant, age comes with its share of changes on the body and the spirit which can prove to be more or less serious and regrettable as one could show it to you with the parts of the body that age the fastest. Alzheimer’s disease can be one of those things that happens in old age and we are going to talk about it a bit trying to explain in a very summary way what this disease consists of, because it is still often misunderstood today .
1. What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects the brain and is neurodegenerative, which means that it sometimes continues to evolve without the person concerned noticing and can get worse more or less quickly. It attacks certain areas of the brain and causes a loss of several of its functions in a completely irreversible way.
2. When was it discovered?
It was the German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer who “discovered” or rather identified in 1907 in one of his patients the disease to which he gave his name. From the study conducted by the doctor on this patient we continued to monitor other cases to document the disease until today.
3. What are the symptoms?
The progression of the disease is classified into three stages:
– First stage (mild): Short and long-term memory is affected in a fairly succinct way, which results in the sick person in temporary forgetfulness (direction, name, recent precise memory).
– Second stage (moderate): The hippocampus of the brain continues to be affected and the patient begins to have more advanced signs of the disease which affect his memory but also his language and his behavior. At this stage the patient may need help with household chores because he loses autonomy quickly.
– Third stage (severe): Memory is completely impaired, most recent events are no longer recorded, but the person may also suffer from dementia and can no longer take care of themselves. Almost ubiquitous assistance is required. On the other hand, travel is difficult or even impossible and mobility is reduced, which causes increasingly serious physical disorders.
4. How many people does it affect?
There are nearly 55 million people with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide (45 million in 2015) and it is estimated that by 2030, 78 million people will be affected by the disease and 139 million in 2050. The number of cases therefore increases considerably, which is linked to the average increase in lifespan.
5. Can it be cured?
Some symptoms of the disease can be alleviated with treatments, but there is no way to cure or stop it. The patient being degenerative, the patient unfortunately cannot recover the lost faculties and there is no way to return to a less advanced stage when he has reached a new level in the disease.
6. Are there things that can cause the disease?
Generally the advanced age of a person is a ground that can cause Alzheimer’s but other causes are studied: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, a high cholesterol level, excessive use of anxiolytics, depression, significant exposure mercury or aluminum… Researchers are trying to define the things that could promote the onset of the disease and its evolution, but the causes seem to be extremely numerous.
7. Does this only affect older people?
No. Alzheimer’s disease affects the vast majority of elderly people because nearly 95% of patients are over 65 years old, however it can start early, which affects 4 to 5% of patients with no real age limit. .
8. Is the disease fatal?
Except if there is an accident caused by inattention or dementia of the patient, one does not really die of Alzheimer’s disease. It is usually because of the physical disorders indirectly caused by the disease that patients die from it. Some develop pressure sores or infections from lack of movement, others pneumonia (one of the most common causes of death) from difficulty swallowing.
9. Is there an average life expectancy for people affected?
Depending on how quickly the disease progresses, the management and the severity of the symptoms, the life expectancy of someone who declares Alzheimer’s varies between 8 to 12 years, but this can obviously be more and must also be calculated. depending on the age of the person when they develop the disease but also if they already have other disorders or illnesses.