World Alzheimer’s Day: Treating dementia with care
The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day, observed on 21 September every year, is Dementia: Living together. September 2012 marks the first global World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma.
Current studies suggest that dementia affects 1 in 20 people over the age of 65.
On this occasion, Neurologist, Dr. Sanjay Mongia, of Lilavathi Hospitals, Mumbai, discusses the importance of identifying Alzheimer’s symptoms early and suggests ways to tackle it.
What are the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
In the early stages, the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. As the disease advances, symptoms can include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, trouble with language, and long term memory loss.
What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s?
At present, there is no definitive evidence to support that any particular measure is effective in preventing AD. Factors, such as hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension, diabetes and smoking, are associated with a higher risk of onset and course of AD. Some studies have shown an increased risk of developing AD with environmental factors such the intake of metals, particularly aliminium or exposure to solvents.
Does heart disease have any connection with onset of Alzheimer’s?
Cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension , diabetes and smoking, are associated with a higher risk of onset and course of AD
Does early diagnosis of the disorder help manage/slow down symptoms?
Yes , early diagnosis helps in managing / slowing down symptoms.
Can changes in diet/fitness impact the disease?
Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of AD. Curcumin (from turmeric) has been shown to slow/delay AD.
What role does a person caring for someone with dementia have to play?
During the early and moderate stages, modifications to the living environment and lifestyle can increase patient safety and reduce caretaker burden.Examples of such modifications are the adherence to simplified routines, the placing of safety locks, the labelling of household items to cue the person with the disease or the use of modified daily life objects. As the disease progresses, different medical issues can appear, such oral and dental disease, pressure ulcers, malnutrition, hygiene problems, or respiratory , skin or eye infections. Careful management can prevent them, while professional treatment is needed when they do arise.