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5 Things you may not know about Alzheimer’s disease
- What is it? Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that affects the human brain. Typically, it has a degenerative affect on cognition, particularly memory. Significant behaviour changes also tend to occur. A very common symptom is a loss of inhibition. For example, the individual can swear excessively, attempt to eat inedible objects or display behavioural disinhibition.
- What’s in a name? It is named after the man credited with identifying the disease over 100 years ago. A German psychiatrist called Alois Alzheimer discovered unusual protein deposits on the pre-morbid brain of a former patient. These anomalies are referred to as “neurofibrillary tangles”
- It is the most prevalent form of dementia: According to recent NHS statistics, Alzheimer’s affects approximately 850 000 people in the UK, over 1% of the population. Due to the ageing population, this number is likely to rise in coming years. The Alzheimer’s Association website states that it is already the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, whilst the UK Office for National Statistics recently cited dementia as the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
- There is no known cure…. yet: The UK-based Alzheimer’s Society aims to spend around 10 million pounds per year investing in research projects to help diagnose, treat and cure the disease. In 2013 the G8 countries agreed to set a target of curing AD by 2025. The profile of the fight to cure AD has been raised a lot in recent times. For example, Microsoft founder Bill Gates donated $50 million to the cause in November 2017. The most promising pathway to a cure appears to be the development of new psycho-active drugs. However, negative effects can be somewhat mediated by psychological intervention such as mindfulness meditation.
- The individual may not know they have it: Although AD has a devastating impact on an individual’s life and that of their families, many who suffer from it are not fully aware of their symptoms. This is because the disease can affect awareness centres of the brain. Ironically, this can be a protective factor in terms of the person’s mood.
If you enjoyed this blog, please read: 5 Things to Think About When You Hire a Live-in Carer