Alzheimer’s disease, also known as one of the cruelest diseases to ever born in the history of humanity, is one that affects your memory, thinking, and behavior. It is as hard on the patient as it is on their loved ones, considering the patient, at one point, loses all their memory of their family, friends, and anyone they have known.
This is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys your cognitive structure, attacking your memory, among other things. For those with late-onset-type, the symptoms appear in their mid-60s. While on the other hand, the early-onset-types can experience the disease early as their 30s to mid-60s. However, early-onset is rare.
Backstory on Alzheimer Disease; Discovery and Pattern
Let’s go into the history when it was first discovered and spotted. The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer; the one who first noticed its existence. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer observed changed within the brain tissue of an expired woman who suffered a rare mental illness, one that wasn’t discovered and documented. Her symptoms included memory loss, having trouble speaking, and unusual or rather, unpredictable behavior. Upon examination of her brain, it was found that there was a presence of many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers.
To this day, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered one of the main reasons for Alzheimer’s disease. Considering how humans suffering from such a form of dementia lose the ability to do basic tasks, it was evident that the connection between the nerve cells in the brain is lost. However, Alzheimer’s symptoms are no so simple and range to many other complex brain changes that result from such dementia.
Let’s Talk Numbers
- It has been established that Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of dementia. Meaning, it causes the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities, rendering the patient completely unable to perform the necessary tasks, including speaking coherently. Almost 60-80% of dementia cases are that of Alzheimer’s.
- It is not a typical disease of old age, as one would assume. However, the increase in risk is found to be in the age group 65 and older. However, this doesn’t spare the early-onset disease, and sadly, in America, approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 suffer from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
- If we had to count the total population of Alzheimer’s, then that would be an estimation of about a 5.5million people in the U.S. alone. Study shows that someone in the U.S. currently develops the disease every 66 seconds; especially as the population ages. Further, the predictions indicate that the disease in the U.S. alone could rise as high as 16-million people by 2050.
- Speaking about the mortality rate, Alzheimer’s is the 6th inline as the leading cause of death in the U.S. That is more people dying from Alzheimer’s than by breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Alzheimer’s patients require intense care, and the best people to provide that to them are their family members. The statistics have shown that in 2016, 15.9 million loved ones assisted and provided unpaid care for 18.2 billion hours; in the U.S. Unfortunately, 35% of the caregivers reported loss or health due to caring for patients with dementia.
- The cost of healthcare concerning Alzheimer’s and its patients was reported to be around $259billion, with $175 billion covered by Medicare and Medicaid in 2017. Now, fast forward into the future, it is said to reach as high as 1.1 trillion dollars by 2050.
Life Expectancy in Alzheimer’s Patients
The data isn’t written in stone, but if an estimation could be provided, we find a varying record from the time of diagnosis to death. It is said to be as little as three years since diagnosis or maybe four years, provided the patient is 80 years or older. For a younger patient, it can be as long as 10 years after diagnosis.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
We did speak about the symptoms but under umbrella terms as the loss of memory, having trouble in speech, and not being able to function properly to carry out day to day tasks. If we could be more specific, then these are the 10 early signs you should look out for.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: Memory loss, repeating questions, having trouble handling money, increase in anxiety, poor judgement leading to bad results, losing a sense of passion.
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease: Problem recognizing family and friends, hallucinations and paranoia, difficulty with language and problems with reading, writing and numeric, impulsive behavior at inappropriate times, and more.
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease: Visible weight loss, increase in sleep cycles, skin infections, seizures, loss of bowel and bladder control, groaning or moaning, and more.
Is There Any Cure or Prevention?
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Still, much work is being done to devise certain practices or approaches towards the treatment that would at least slow down the disease or manage the behavioral symptoms up to a certain extent.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved several prescription drugs that have been used to treat people who have Alzheimer’s. However, some of these medications help in slowing down the symptoms and that too in people in their early or middle stages of such dementia. Those slowed down symptoms include memory loss in particular that has been controlled to a certain degree.
Again, it is to note that none of the medicine that has been approved by the FDA cures or stops the disease in any shape or form.
Nonetheless, the power struggle against such a powerful yet cruel disease continues with many research papers published for your exploration. And even though all lead to the same conclusion of not being able to stop the death of brain cells, which advances Alzheimer’s – there is still an effort to slow down and not lose the patient entirely too soon.
Life sciences consulting is geared towards such noble causes and helps concerned organizations to move in the right direction with the proper consultation. Moreover, considering the pandemic’s current situation, making it worse for caretakers and old Alzheimer’s patients, cutting-edge technology is allowing everyone to lessen the contact through ‘remote patient monitoring’ solutions.