The existence of Alzheimer’s Disease has been known for over 150 years, and although scientists have not found a cure for this illness, the disease is much better understood than it was in the early 1900s. In fact, just 30 years ago, almost nothing was known about why the disease did what it did to people. Today, it is understood that Alzheimer’s is marked by elevated amyloid beta levels in the brain. These are a naturally occurring substance, but at elevated levels, the effect is toxic. This is a simplified explanation, but this information alone has had a remarkable impact on research and treatment.
Alzheimer’s also happens to be one of the most feared diseases there is, especially for those that are aged 65 or older. Not only does it cause a slow cognitive decline, it causes those with the disease to slowly deteriorate physically, too. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and it is a fatal illness. Hearing that you have this disease means that you can expect your mental capabilities to decline until you are no longer able to care for yourself. In-home care can be a good choice in the early stages of this disease, but more intensive care will be needed eventually. The disease spreads a little bit differently in everyone, but the end result is the same.
Doctors today still don’t have a cure, and treatment of the disease is intended to help patients deal with symptoms and perhaps slow down the spread, if it is treated early enough. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to reverse the degenerative nature of the disease, and this can cause despair and depression in those that receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. This is why the focus of some researchers is shifting away from treatment and is being placed on prevention.
For example, take into consideration the PET scan. Short for positive emission tomography, the PET scan can allow doctors to see amyloid beta proteins within the brain before any symptoms of Alzheimer’s are noticeable. This isn’t necessarily an indication that Alzheimer’s Disease is definitely going to develop, but it does show that it is more likely to occur in individuals with elevated amyloid levels. When this is observed, activities and treatments designed to slow down the spread of the disease can be instituted. These often include exercise, medications, and mental stimulation, like puzzles and games. Individual approaches might vary, but when more data is present, doctors can be far more proactive so that the disease does not have an immediate negative impact upon people’s quality of life.
Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia is difficult. Seeing their mental and cognitive functioning decline is not easy to bear emotionally, and it can be tough as you assume a role of caregiver within your family. If you are looking for help in the caregiver department, be sure to schedule a free consultation with Paradise In-Home Care. If we are able to help you out, we will let you know.