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Alzheimer’s Disease

“If you had to choose between death or life with a severe disability, which one would you select?” When asked this question, most people would likely answer that death is preferable to being severely disabled. This reflects the widely held view within society that the thought of living out one’s life with a severe disability is much scarier than death.

For the author of this article, having already entered old age, Alzheimer’s disease is the scariest illness. This is because other severe illnesses that can result in much more serious symptoms than Alzheimer’s disease – such as cancer – still allow the patient to retain one’s dignity. Alzheimer’s disease, however, can destroy many facets of our personality, including the knowledge we’ve accumulated over a lifetime, our physical abilities and also our dignity. It gradually eats away the afflicted individual, until the person loses all faculties and independence, leaving the sufferer as vulnerable as a newborn baby in its crib.

The brain has many functions. It regulates nearly all the various bodily organs at the same time as giving us our humanity by enabling a higher level of sentience than other living creatures, due to the way the brain is wired. The brain’s memory is actually a system of cells, consisting of millions and millions of individual cells, allowing us to not only remember huge amounts of information and data, but also to think, regulate mood and control behavior.

Alzheimer’s disease, therefore, not only affects memory, but also impairs and slows down our thought processes, leading to impairment of decision making, a reduction of intelligence and an inability to regulate mood, resulting in an increasingly irrational behavior. All of these symptoms gradually deteriorate until the sufferer loses their faculties, ending up completely vulnerable, losing all dignity, and finally becoming entirely dependent on others before the disease eventually takes the Alzheimer’s patient’s life.

This is why Alzheimer’s disease is such a terrifying prospect for anyone with any standing within society. The medical profession has performed extensive research to find ways to prevent and treat the disease, resulting in findings which conclude that the earlier the condition can be diagnosed, the better the chances of relieving symptoms and slowing the disease’s development.

Furthermore, it has been found that in some cases, early diagnosis and treatment may even allow a return to full health.

The various forms of dementia can be categorized into two major groups: the treatable or curable group, and the incurable group with symptoms that in some cases can only be relieved, so as to allow an improved quality of life for the sufferer. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of condition which falls under the latter classification.

Symptoms of memory loss consistent with dementia

Of the major symptoms of dementia is a form of memory loss which differs greatly from someone who is merely forgetful. We all have elderly friends and relatives who can be affected by this condition. For this reason, it is important for all of us to be on the lookout for the following 10 dementia-related symptoms of memory loss:

  • Forgetting things to the extent that it affects the person’s daily life
  • Finding it increasingly difficult to read and having trouble anticipating distance
  • Losing the ability to make plans or find solutions to issues that occur in daily life
  • Experiencing difficulties when performing previously familiar tasks
  • Confusing time and locations
  • Experiencing difficulties understanding or using language
  • Misplacing objects in strange locations
  • A reduction in decision making capabilities
  • Withdrawing from work or activities which were once enjoyed
  • Mood swings and personality changes

10 ways to prolong brain life

  • Plenty of rest and an appropriate amount of sleep
  • A regular diet consisting of the five main food groups in moderation
  • Regular exercise
  • Optimism or viewing life in a positive light
  • Meditation
  • Not relying on devices to do your thinking for you
  • Not withdrawing from society
  • Being active and finding things to do instead of lazing around
  • Inspiring yourself
  • Being of a cheerful nature

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Assistant professor Phinit Limsukhon, M.D. Summary: Internal Medicine Internal Medicine