The disease starts with dementia (main cause) and / or loss of cognitive functions (memory, orientation, attention and language) and affects mostly elderly people.
When diagnosed at the beginning, it is possible to delay its progress and have more control over the symptoms, ensuring a better quality of life for the patient and the family.
Read more: Blood test may indicate Alzheimer’s risk 16 years earlier
According to data from the Brazilian Alzheimer’s Association (Abraz), in Brazil there are about 15 million people over the age of 60 and 6% of these suffer from Alzheimer’s.
In the USA, it is the fourth disease that kills the most elderly people between 75 and 80 years, second only to infarction , stroke and cancer .
The disease can be found in the International Classification of Diseases through the codes:
- G30.0 – Alzheimer’s disease with early onset;
- G30.1 – Alzheimer’s disease with late onset;
- G30.8 – Other forms of Alzheimer’s disease;
- G30.9 – Alzheimer’s disease, unspecified
“Alzheimer’s disease” or “Alzheimer’s disease?
The term considered the most correct is “Alzheimer’s disease”.
The other term “Alzheimer’s disease”, for patients and doctors, refers to a negative or pejorative condition. Although being ill is never pleasant, the term disease is associated with circumventable, treatable conditions or, at least, without so many stigmas.
Currently, it is preferable not to use “Alzheimer’s disease”.
This disease can be classified into two types, which differ according to the time of life when the symptoms began to manifest:
It concerns cases in which people manifest symptoms at age 65 or older.
It is the most common type of Alzheimer’s and the risks appear to be greater when the patient has first-degree relatives, such as a father or mother, who have already had the disease.
The interesting thing, however, is that even if the father and mother have the Alzheimer’s gene and pass it on to their child, the patient may not develop the disease.
Early onset occurs when the first symptoms of the disease begin to manifest before age 65.
This type of Alzheimer’s is directly related to genes that have mutated and caused changes in the brain’s beta-amyloid proteins , causing people to show symptoms earlier.
This is a less common form, but more serious, as its evolution is more accelerated.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Their symptoms will manifest over time and, especially in the early stages, may go unnoticed by the family and the patient himself.
The speed with which the disease progresses varies widely. Structural changes in the brain and loss of neurons begin, on average, 15 to 20 years before the first symptoms appear.
In general, people with Alzheimer’s live 8 years after diagnosis, but there are many cases of patients who can survive for up to 20 years.
All this variation happens because everything depends on several factors, such as the age of the patient, when he was diagnosed and the presence of other more serious health problems.
Still, Alzheimer’s disease can be categorized within a few specific stages. According to information from the Brazilian Alzheimer’s Association (ABRAz), they are very characteristic. Understand:
It is difficult for the symptoms of the initial stage to be perceived quickly, not least because many of them may seem, to family, friends, doctors and even to the patient himself, as consequences of old age.
Cognitive changes in this phase can begin 20 years or more before diagnosis.
Since the disease is gradual, it is difficult to be sure when, exactly, Alzheimer’s begins. Symptoms that may be presented by the patient include:
- Speech problems (language problems);
- Significant memory loss – more specifically for things that just happened;
- Not knowing the time or day of the week;
- Getting lost in familiar places;
- Having difficulty making decisions;
- Stay inactive or unmotivated;
- Present mood changes, depression and anxiety;
- Reacting with unusual anger or aggression on certain occasions;
- Present a loss of interest in hobbies and other activities.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms and limitations caused by the disease begin to become more evident. In this phase, life expectancy varies between 2 and 10 years.
The patient begins to experience more difficulties with daily life and can:
- Having major memory problems, especially with recent events and other people’s names;
- Having difficulty living alone;
- Being unable to cook, clean or shop;
- Becoming extremely dependent on a family member or caregiver;
- Need help with personal hygiene;
- Present difficulty with speech;
- Get lost easily, both at home and away;
- Repeat questions many times and shout;
- In some cases, it is possible to hallucinate.
The advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the closest to total dependence and inactivity. In this phase, life expectancy varies from 1 to 5 years. The memory disorders are very serious and the physical side of the disease becomes more evident. The patient can:
- Having difficulty eating;
- Being unable to communicate;
- Do not recognize relatives, friends and family objects;
- Having difficulty understanding what happens around you;
- Being unable to find your way back home;
- Having difficulty walking;
- Have urinary or fecal incontinence;
- Manifest inappropriate behavior in public;
- Need a wheelchair or stay in bed.
How was Alzheimer’s discovered?
In 1907, psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer described the brain of a 56-year-old woman with dementia.
Five years before her death, she had a progressive memory loss and quickly lost herself in her neighborhood and, eventually, in her own apartment, in addition to fantasizing about being murdered.
At that time, the patient was already hospitalized, was disoriented and had difficulties with language (reading, writing and naming) in addition to not being able to learn any new material.
The autopsy of this patient revealed a brain with reduced volume, but without major abnormalities. Laboratory tests carried out by Alzheimer demonstrated the presence of what was called, at the time, “senile plaques”.
It was only nearly 100 years after the discovery, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that scientists began to understand what exactly was happening in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient thanks to advances in neuroscience.
Thus, although it is still not clear what exactly causes Alzheimer’s, it was possible to discover what these “senile plaques” were and how they form in the brain as we age.
All the actions we take on a daily basis, from blinking, breathing to developing complex tasks, such as making a realistic drawing of a landscape, involve the exchange of information between neurons.
During the process of transmitting information, neurons release neurotransmitters, which guarantee communication between these cells and, consequently, all other processes in our body.
The problem is that, in addition to releasing neurotransmitters, during communication, neurons release a small peptide called beta-amyloid .
Normally, beta-amyloid is removed and metabolized by microglia, the “cleaning” cell.
The main hypothesis raised by science is that Alzheimer’s starts to happen when there is an accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain.
If this peptide is released in excess or is not removed correctly, communication between neurons begins to become compromised, as beta-amyloids clump together, forming sticky deposits called amyloids – just what Alois Alzheimer called “senile plaques”.
As the disease progresses, this accumulation intensifies, compromising more regions of the brain, which causes the symptoms of memory loss, impairment of cognitive and motor functions, and all the complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more: Herpes virus may be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s
There are several risk factors involving Alzheimer’s. Understand:
Age is, of course, the most well-known risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s. After age 65, the risk of developing the disease doubles every 5 years.
For some reason, women seem to have a higher risk of developing the disease, however, this risk may be related to the fact that women, on average, live longer than men.
An article published in 2007 in the journal Breteler Neurology demonstrated that smoking is directly associated with the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in old age because of the mutagenic properties of cigarettes.
In other words, this means that smoking can cause genetic changes that favor the development of the disease.
Having Alzheimer’s cases in the family can be considered a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s. If your parents or siblings developed the disease, you are more likely to develop it, although it is not a determinant.
Although it is not known exactly what the mechanisms of the disease are, hereditary, environmental and lifestyle factors can influence its development.
The APO4 gene is a gene that increases the presence of beta-amyloid in the brain, however, you can inherit a copy of this gene from both your mother and father and still not develop Alzheimer’s disease.
That is, despite being a risk factor, genetics, by itself, is not a determining factor for the development of Alzheimer’s.
Sleep is a time of “cleaning” the brain. When we sleep, the glial cells (a type of neuronal cell) “wash” the cerebrospinal fluid through the brain, cleaning up the metabolic waste that has accumulated during the synapses.
A single night spent in the open can lead to an increase in beta-amyloid. What’s worse is that it disrupts sleep, which increases the presence of beta-amyloid in a vicious circle that accelerates the breakdown of brain cells.
Read more: Sleep disorders increase chances of having Alzheimer’s
Studies published in the Journal of Internal Medicine have shown that at least 80% of people with Alzheimer’s also have cardiovascular problems.
Type 2 diabetes
The diabetes type 2 is one of the best known risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s. Studies still show that the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s patients was greater in people with type 2 diabetes.
A study published in Nature Neuroscience demonstrated that the increase in cholesterol affects the withdrawal of beta-amyloid, which increases the risks for the development of Alzheimer’s.
People who have had a moderate or severe head injury, such as a blow to the head or injury to the skull, which causes amnesia or loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Professional wrestlers, for example, who are very exposed to blows to the head, have a greater chance of developing dementia and impaired thinking.
That’s because, with each impact, the brain sways inside the skull, hitting the bone and making microlesions that, in turn, can increase the accumulation of amyloid in the brain.
The obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as high cholesterol. Thus, it presents itself as a strong risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms and signs
Alzheimer’s symptoms start with the patient losing some intellectual functions, reducing their work and social skills. These symptoms begin to interfere with both the person’s behavior and personality.
See the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
Memory loss is the best known symptom of Alzheimer’s. As it persists and worsens, it begins to affect the patient’s abilities at home and at work. In that sense, people with Alzheimer’s can:
- Affirming and asking the same thing over and over, without realizing that they have asked the question or statement before;
- Forget conversations, appointments or events;
- Get lost in familiar places;
- Eventually, forget the names of family members and everyday objects;
- Having difficulty finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or participate in conversations.
Difficulty thinking and reasoning
Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty in concentrating, especially with numbers. Patients also have difficulty multitasking and managing finances.
As these difficulties progress, family support becomes necessary.
Difficulty in family tasks
Routine activities that require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal, and even bathing can become more difficult as the disease progresses.
Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s disease may forget to perform basic tasks like eating or dressing.
Changes in personality and behavior
Brain changes caused by the accumulation of amyloid in the brain can affect the way the patient acts and feels. For this reason, people with Alzheimer’s may experience:
- Social withdrawal;
- Mood swings;
- Mistrust of others;
- Irritability and aggressiveness;
- Changes in sleep habits;
- Loss of inhibitions;
- Delusions, like believing something was stolen.
How is the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is somewhat complicated even for the doctor, because especially the initial symptoms can be confused with normal symptoms of aging.
The most recommended specialist to carry out the diagnosis and accompany the patient is the geriatrician, geriatric psychiatrist or neurologist.
The disease can only be confirmed in fact through a microscopic examination of brain tissue. As the extraction of a piece of brain tissue is a very risky operation, this examination is only done after the patient’s death, in order to confirm the suspicion.
This makes the diagnosis of the disease clinical, that is, everything will depend on the doctor’s assessment, based on some exams, tests and the patient’s history.
To help with your investigation, your doctor may order blood and imaging tests, such as tomography and MRI scans. They are done, for the most part, not to confirm the diagnosis, but to eliminate chances of other diseases.
There is an in-depth assessment of brain functions, in addition to a neuropsychological assessment that involves the use of tests to verify the patient’s cognitive functioning.
By associating the test results with the patient’s medical history and life history, as well as with family members’ reports, it is possible to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.
All this care must be taken because Alzheimer’s disease cannot be considered as the main hypothesis for any dementia.
There are other diseases, such as cerebral vascular disease, and medications that can impair cognition as well, causing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s can be identified before the presence of dementia. In this phase, the patient is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease.
This hypothesis is usually raised when cognitive changes reported by the patient or by close people are identified.
Mild problems in performing previously common complex tasks, such as paying bills, preparing a meal, or shopping, are indications of this situation.
In such cases, the patient may take longer to perform activities, be less efficient and make more mistakes, despite being able to maintain his independence with minimal assistance.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to know with certainty whether these conditions will progress to dementia.
For this reason, it is important to emphasize that the patient and family must seek a qualified professional to make a careful assessment, which discards any and all other suspicions that may go unnoticed.
New technologies, based on the analysis of beta-amyloid biomarkers (senile plaques) and tau protein (neurofibrillary tangles) are being studied to assist in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
These analyzes, however, are not yet suitable for clinical practice, as they have not been sufficiently tested.
Is there a cure?
No . Unfortunately, science has yet to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s.
However, in the last 20 years, significant advances have been made in neuroscience, making the understanding of the disease and its possible cure closer and closer.
What is the treatment?
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease includes the use of medications that improve specific symptoms, such as hallucinations and sleep abnormalities.
Outside of drug treatment, it is possible to look for alternative therapies that improve the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer’s. Among them, we can mention:
Validation therapy argues that, instead of trying to bring the patient with dementia into objective reality, it is much more beneficial to enter the patient’s reality.
In this way, empathy is developed with the patient, so that confidence and a sense of security are built, which, in turn, reduces the stress and anxiety caused by the disease.
Many family members and caregivers report benefits for themselves, as well as for the patient, due to a reduction in the number of conflicts.
This therapy is based on the idea that if a person has experienced severe short-term memory loss and is no longer able to use thought or understand the present, he is more likely to relive the past.
For the person with Alzheimer’s, this can be a way of resolving unfinished conflicts, relieving traumatic experiences from the past or moving away from the present, from which they no longer have control.
Some patients tend to oscillate between times when they are in the present and others when they are in the past. Despite having positive reports, many family members and caregivers express concern that validation involves lying about reality for the person with dementia.
However, a more accurate description of this approach is that it avoids challenging the reality in which the Alzheimer’s patient is living.
An example: if the patient with dementia believes he is expecting his children to return from school, despite the fact that they are already middle-aged, family members and caregivers who use this therapy do not discuss the person’s point of view, nor do they expect the patient to have awareness of their behavior.
Instead of confronting the patient informing them that their children are already adults and do not go to school, the family members agree and can try to get him to practice another activity, such as eating, watching TV or knitting, making him forget the idea of who is expecting children.
That is, instead of correcting what the person believes, the validation approach proposes recognition and empathy with the feelings behind the expressed behavior.
Music can be a great ally to communicate and bring more quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s. It is often the case that the patient is still able to appreciate old familiar songs and sounds even after they have already lost several capacities.
This is because music activates several areas of the brain, especially those related to memory, which means that a simple piece of music can trigger old memories and feelings.
The great advantage of music is that it does not require prolonged attention and that it can also trigger reminiscence, which is when the patient has an improvement in symptoms and can remember things that he no longer remembered.
Knowing what a person likes and dislikes musically is vital to the success of this approach.
Thus, music can be used both as a formal therapy and as a simple form of entertainment, helping to control difficult behaviors and calming the patient.
Counting on the help of music therapists is also an option, as they have extensive training in the use of music in people with dementia and in dealing with complex behaviors.
Here’s an example of how music can help an Alzheimer’s patient to reconnect with the past, with their memories and with themselves:
Reminiscence is a way of reviewing past events and is an activity that can be very positive and rewarding.
Even if the person with Alzheimer’s disease is unable to participate verbally, he may still enjoy being involved in reflections on his past. When she is upset, reminiscence can be a means of distraction.
However, even though the habit of reviewing the past may provide a feeling of peace and happiness, it can also enliven sad and painful memories.
For this reason, it is important to be aware of the patient’s reactions, if this happens. If the person is in great distress, then it is better to use other forms of distraction to reduce anxiety.
Book of the life
Chronological history of the Alzheimer’s patient can help reminiscence and provide information to people who interact with her.
The “book of life” is a kind of visual diary, similar to a family photo album, in which letters, postcards, certificates and other souvenirs can also be included.
A large photo album lasts indefinitely and can take a lot of use.
In the case of the book of life, all photos must be identified, so that the person with dementia avoids asking himself who this or that person is.
The best thing to do is to limit the number of information per page to a single topic, with a maximum of 2 to 3 items on each page.
There are no drugs to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The drugs used in these cases seek to attack secondary symptoms, such as behavioral or motor problems that the patient may acquire.
According to a survey conducted by the Cleveland clinic in the United States, 99% of the drugs tested between 2002 and 2012 against Alzheimer’s did not bring any positive results.
All this difficulty is due to the fact that scientists do not know what exactly must be fought.
Another reason for the lack of effective remedies is the fact that, in the most severe stages, even if the amyloids are removed, the damage caused to the brain’s neurons cannot be reversed.
In addition to the fact that the diagnosis is usually late, the efficacy of drug treatments tends to be less and does not help so much to fight the progression of the disease.
In Brazil, the Unified Health System, through the Exceptional Medicines Program, offers the following medications for free as treatment for Alzheimer’s:
- Galantamine .
- Donepezila .
- Rivastigmine .
These drugs do not prevent the progression of the disease, but they are useful in the early stages, and may mitigate or delay the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Even so, treatment can bring about improvements in behavior and other aspects of life. Understand:
Especially older patients end up manifesting symptoms such as confusion, aggression and depression . To control these problems, soothing and neuroleptic remedies can be indicated, among them:
- Haldol ;
- Neozine ;
- Neuleptil ;
- Risperidone ;
- Melleril .
Seeking to treat memory loss, some drugs aim to correct the chemical imbalance of the brain, such as:
- Rivastigmine ( Exelon or Prometax);
- Donepezil ( Eranz );
- Galantamine ( Reminyl ).
Such drugs usually work best in the early stages of the disease until the middle stage. Their effects, on the other hand, can be temporary, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses regardless of the use of these drugs.
Another problem is the fact that these drugs have several side effects (especially gastric), which can make their use unfeasible.
The fact is that only a portion of the elderly have effective improvement of symptoms with the use of these anticholinesterase substances.
The medication Memantine ( Ebix or Alois ), is an exception, as it acts differently in the body. It is most used in the intermediate and advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, improving, in some cases, the patient’s dependence for day-to-day tasks.
Others that may be indicated for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are:
- Emama ;
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
How do I get the medicine for free?
According to ABRAz, in order to request approved drugs for free distribution, it is necessary to present a series of documents. Understand:
Documents issued by the doctor
The responsible physician must issue the following documents so that the patient has access to free medication through the Unified Health System:
- Drug request / authorization report (3 copies);
- Form 13 completed correctly and without erasures;
- Informed consent form (2 copies), completed and signed by the responsible physician;
- Examination of the mini-mental test (specific test to track cognitive losses) performed by the patient, analyzed and signed by the doctor;
- Special control recipe (2 copies) containing the following information:
- Name of the active, generic or main substance of the drug with the monthly numerical quantity;
- Drug dosage, stamp, signature and date.
The patient must also present some documents to obtain the remedies. Are they:
- Common simple copy of RG (mandatory) and CPF (optional);
- Simple copy of proof of residence;
- Simple copy of the National Health Card / SUS;
- Telephone number, own or for messages.
In most Brazilian states, the locations for the withdrawal of medications are informed by the health centers themselves where the patient is served.
When you are at the health centers, ask the professionals in charge for the exact address of the pick-up location.
Living with Alzheimer’s disease is a great challenge both for the patient, as well as for family members and caregivers. For that reason, we made some tips for the carrier of the disease and for the people around. Check out:
For the carrier of Alzheimer’s disease
Getting the news that you have Alzheimer’s disease can be a difficult task. To better live with the disease, we brought some tips. Check out:
Know: you will not die tomorrow
It is not because you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that your life is over. There is still a path to be followed and several moments to be shared with family and close friends. Hold on to them and live those moments with intensity.
You will not lose your emotional memory
Yea! Even in the advanced stages of the disease you will still be able to feel affection, love and affection. As well as still be moved by listening to music and in other situations.
As much as you don’t remember what you ate for lunch, you will still remember how that meal made you feel.
Get ready for the development of the disease
As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for people with the disease to be able to have fun and spend time, especially if hobbies are more mental tasks, such as reading and writing.
Thus, you need to find some other motor activity that you can develop with your hands, such as drawing, playing an instrument or making origami.
Alzheimer’s disease mainly attacks cognition, which makes the habit of watching television or reading a book less attractive, while handicrafts are not so easily lost.
Preparing yourself this way, when the disease develops, you will have an interesting hobby to do for a long time.
Keep memories and identify them
Memory loss is the best known symptom of Alzheimer’s.
A good tip to prepare the ground for the moment when the dementia phase begins, is to make souvenir albums in which you identify all the people involved and tell the stories behind the memories, be they photos, letters, postcards, etc.
For the family caregiver or caregiver
The following are tips for people who will work to support Alzheimer’s patients. Check out:
Many Alzheimer’s patients can avoid or even refuse to bathe or perform oral hygiene. These habits need to be preserved to ensure well-being and quality of life.
Therefore, in cases of poor hygiene, an effort is needed in search of strategies that favor cleaning. Check out some tips:
- Create hygiene routines, preferably at a fixed time. If the patient refuses to take a shower at that time, wait a little longer;
- Try to make bath time an hour of relaxation;
- Check if the patient prefers the shower, hand shower or bath. If there are preferences, try to use them;
- Bathtubs should be used under supervision and only by patients with good motor skills;
- Simplify the bath as much as possible, making it brief;
- Allow the patient to bathe himself with as much autonomy as possible. Before doing it for him, monitor his actions and give instructions verbally in an objective way. The family caregiver can only help with the actions instead of fulfilling all of them;
- Check if the patient is using the toothbrush, dental prostheses and products used for cleaning.
- Notice if the patient is embarrassed or embarrassed when receiving help from a caregiver of the opposite sex and, in this case, seek help from a caregiver of the same sex;
- Ensure a safe bathroom, using safety bars and toilet seats. Try to make this environment pleasant, using interesting products that attract the patient’s attention, such as special soaps and moisturizers.
It is possible that the Alzheimer’s patient may not be able to dress on their own, or even lose their judgment in making appropriate clothing choices.
Regardless of the situation, the caregiver’s intervention can be important to assist the patient in the face of any eventual disability.
Things you can do to improve the patient’s life are:
- Previously select 2 changes of clothing and allow the patient to choose. Ensure that the combinations are appropriate for the social situation and suitable for the season and the temperature of the environment;
- Leave the clothes in the order of placement, so that the patient, if possible, can dress himself. If he does not succeed, help him by giving instructions in stages (piece by piece) and, if the difficulty proves to be persistent, help him by asking for his participation to the maximum, to guarantee autonomy to the patient;
- If the patient has a preference for a particular clothing and insist and reuse it, try to provide others of the same model, so that he feels comfortable and the clothing can be properly washed;
- Avoid shoes with leather soles and slippers, as it is easier to get involved in accidents with these shoes. The Alzheimer’s patient must wear shoes that are attached to the feet and have a non-slip sole.
Risks at home
The environment where the Alzheimer’s patient lives can pose risks even in situations that have always been part of the patient’s habits.
People with Alzheimer’s and who live alone are more prone to risky situations, as forgetfulness and accidents can take time to be noticed – the patient can try to cook and forget about the stove on, for example.
For this reason, it is recommended that the family is close by monitoring their routine and checking for risks. Check out some tips:
- Install safety bars and safety nets on the windows, remove the carpets, leave the paths clear of obstacles and use non-slip flooring;
- Put gas lock and stove with automated locking;
- Keep drugs or toxic products out of reach of the elderly;
- Monitor the water temperature of the shower, tap and bidet to avoid burns during hygiene;
- Control the use of iron and closely monitor culinary practices;
- Monitor the use of blades and kitchen utensils that can generate cuts;
- Avoid environments with stairs.
Over time, the Alzheimer’s patient loses his ability to deal with money, do math and have a sense of value. Therefore, these people are at greater risk of being robbed, making large donations and losing money.
The use of magnetic cards and passwords for banking transactions can be a real complication in the management of finances, as it is common for the patient to lose passwords and ask for help from strangers, which makes him more vulnerable to actions in bad faith.
When the patient makes inappropriate use of resources and is exposed to risks, it is necessary to seek safe alternatives for the transition of responsibilities. Check out some tips:
- Check that the bills are being paid correctly and that there have been significant changes in the spending pattern;
- Prevent the patient from having large amounts of cash;
- Place accounts on direct debit;
- If possible, it is interesting that a trusted family member has a joint account with the patient;
- Tell the bank manager about the situation and ask that, in case any strange movement occurs, the family is notified;
- In the most advanced stages of the disease, judicial interdiction is possible, a situation in which a close person will act on behalf of the patient, is appointed by the judiciary.
The prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease, for the time being, is not very optimistic, as the cure for the disease has not yet been discovered. Even so, there are treatments and they are focused on improving cognitive functions.
Its goal is to slow the progression of the disease and help control agitation, confusion and other symptoms, improving the patient’s quality of life. With education, treatment and support, it is possible to cope very well with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can bring several complications to the patient. Understand:
Restlessness and agitation
Alzheimer’s disease can cause patients to experience periods of intense agitation and anxiety. This is because the ability to reason and understand certain situations is also impaired, which leaves the patient confused and agitated.
Some people with Alzheimer’s disease are also agitated when they are physically uncomfortable. The agitation may increase if she cannot speak or express how she feels.
Bladder and bowel problems
Bladder and bowel problems are other complications of Alzheimer’s disease. As it progresses, the patient may no longer recognize the sensations of needing to use the bathroom, as well as being unable to respond quickly to impulses.
All of this may be the result of limited mobility or communication skills. The patient may also be confused and use the bathroom in inappropriate places, but the people around him can help him with this.
Some people with Alzheimer’s disease may experience depression because they do not know how to deal with cognitive losses. Symptoms may include:
- Problems sleeping;
- Mood swings;
- Social seclusion;
- Difficulty concentrating.
Because the symptoms of depression can be very similar to that of Alzheimer’s disease itself, identifying that the emotional problem is happening can be challenging. In such cases, consulting a geriatric psychiatrist is always a good option.
Alzheimer’s disease can affect balance and motor coordination. The risk of falling increases as the disease worsens, which can lead to bone fractures.
Alzheimer’s disease can cause the patient to lose control of normal body functions, causing them to forget to chew or swallow. If this happens, they are at an increased risk of inhaling food and drinks.
This can cause pulmonary aspiration and pneumonia , which can be fatal.
People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience restlessness and insomnia due to a disruption in their normal sleep patterns. As a result, they may leave home believing that they are on an assignment or going to work.
The problem is that some patients leave the house at night, when everyone is asleep and may not remember the way back.
Malnutrition and dehydration
It is important for the Alzheimer’s patient to eat and drink enough fluids. However, this can be difficult, as they may refuse to eat or drink as the disease progresses.
In addition, they may become unable to consume food and drinks because of difficulty swallowing.
How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known, however, there are several risk factors that can be prevented. Check out some:
If you smoke, stop. Smoking has already been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Exercise your brain
It is very important to keep the brain active. Cognitive inactivity increases the chances of developing Alzheimer’s by 19%.
There are many exercises that you can do. Reading and increasing the cultural repertoire is only one. It is also possible to engage in games that involve memory and logical thinking, such as crossword puzzles and board games.
Give attention to sleep
One of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s is unregulated sleep. If the person does not sleep at least 6 hours in a row every day, always goes to sleep at different times or stays up late many days in a row, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is increased.
This is because the production of amyloid is directly related to sleep. It is at this stage that brain cells clear the region’s amyloid and, if this is hampered by sleepless nights, the risk of Alzheimer’s increases.
Have a balanced diet
A balanced diet can reduce the risks of several diseases in addition to Alzheimer’s, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases, all 3 directly linked to a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Then evaluate the benefits. By eating a balanced diet, you not only protect yourself from Alzheimer’s but from countless other diseases.
Practice aerobic exercise
Regular aerobic exercise can decrease the presence of amyloid in the brain, which in turn ends up affecting the development of the disease.
Read more: Physical exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s and improve memory
How does the interdiction of the patient with Alzheimer’s work?
For the interdiction to happen, it is necessary to assess the patient by a medical expert, who will attest to your ability to discern. The report issued by the specialist will be forwarded to the judge, who can decide whether or not to intervene.
The interdiction of the patient with Alzheimer’s disease is done through a judicial process, requiring the participation of a lawyer. In specific cases, the Public Prosecutor’s Office may act, and representation by a lawyer is unnecessary.
The patient must be taken to the presence of the judge (when there is a possibility) so that the magistrate can get to know him.
Depending on the judge’s decision, the representative of the patient with Alzheimer’s is appointed curator and starts to exercise all acts of the patient’s civil life, administering the assets, signing documents and everything related to the sick citizen’s life.
The patient invalidated due to Alzheimer’s disease receives a 25% increase in the amount of his retirement when he needs someone’s permanent assistance.
What are the rights of Alzheimer’s patients?
Since 2002, Brazil has an ordinance that institutes, within the scope of the Unified Health System (SUS), the Assistance Program for Alzheimer’s Disease patients.
The program works through the Reference Centers in Health Care for the Elderly, responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, monitoring of patients and guidance to family members, and attendants of Alzheimer’s patients.
This ordinance establishes that the patient has the right to:
- Diagnostic appointments;
- Service in the public network;
- Day hospital care;
- Hospital care;
- Home visit of health professionals;
- Treatment accompanied by a multidisciplinary team;
- Orientation and training programs for family members;
- Income tax exemption;
- Free medication.
The aging of the Brazilian population is a recent phenomenon, since, until the 1950s, the life expectancy of the population was approximately 40 years. He is currently 71 years old.
Estimates by the Ministry of Health indicate that 73% of people over 60 years of age depend exclusively on SUS.
The assistance to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease happens not only in the Reference Centers in Health Care for the Elderly, but also in outpatient health units.
What to do to get income tax exemption?
To achieve income tax exemption, the Alzheimer’s patient must also submit a series of documents. According to the ABRAz website, it is necessary to:
Request or letter of request
It is necessary to write a letter containing the income tax exemption request and the information that identifies the patient. The letter must be delivered to an INSS service center.
For the exemption to be granted, it is necessary to prove the disease. Simple medical certificates or statements are not enough in these cases.
Therefore, the patient must present a detailed medical expert report, in a model provided by the Federal Revenue Service, issued by an official clinical service, with the designation “Mental Alienation” and the corresponding code (CID) as a disease.
If the medical report presented has been made by a private doctor, the patient must still submit to medical examination with an official bond, such as, for example, an INSS expert.
Is Alzheimer’s a female disease?
No. Alzheimer’s can affect men and women, however, it is more prevalent in women.
One hypothesis is that women have a longer life expectancy and the longer a person lives, the greater the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Can Alzheimer’s affect younger people?
Yea! There are forms of early Alzheimer’s that affect patients before age 65. These forms, however, are quite rare.
Is there an Alzheimer’s vaccine?
No . This approach, however, has been investigated by scientists and may bear fruit. The idea is to use a vaccine that stimulates the immune system to detect, recognize and combat the formation of amyloid plaque.
Is Alzheimer’s Hereditary?
It depends . The risks of you developing Alzheimer’s are greater if your close relatives, such as parents or siblings, have the disease.
However, even if a patient is the son of a father and mother with Alzheimer’s, it does not mean that he will develop the disease.
Scientists believe that there are more environmental and behavioral factors, such as smoking and lifestyle choices, that can increase the propensity for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the life span of a person with Alzheimer’s?
It depends on when the disease was discovered and the degree of damage. While the duration of the disease can pass 20 years, the average life varies from 4 to 8 years after the diagnosis.