Getting To Know Alzheimer

Anyone who has any connection to Alzheimer’s disease either as a medical professional, caregiver, family member or patient you know that the disease revolves around the symptoms. The diagnosis is made based largely on the symptoms the patient presents with and on any history that family members or other close friends can offer at the time the diagnosis process is occurring. Treatments are largely based on the cognitive and behavioral symptoms and can chance as the disease progresses and the symptoms intensify. It is imperative that all concerned parties understand as much as possible about the symptoms and the role they play in making the patient as comfortable as possible throughout the course of the disease.

The cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s refer to those symptoms that are connected to the attention, decision making, learning, memory, perception, planning, problem solving and reasoning aspects of how our brain works. We use these cognitive abilities in everything we do from what we do around the house to tasks we do at our jobs or in our careers. Even daily living tasks like brushing our teeth, getting dressed, balancing the checkbook, planning, shopping and preparing meals all require cognitive skills to complete. When symptoms that include a degree of loss regarding ability to perform these above cognitive task the individual has difficulty functioning. It is this inability to function that differentiates normal aging symptoms of occasional memory lapse with the more serious symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease have more to do with attitudinal stances, gestures the patient makes, the ability to physically move about, and the reactions the individual has to certain situations that are inappropriate.

Behavioral symptoms are different from cognitive symptoms and symptoms that relate to the emotional processes (our feelings) are still quite different from those mentioned above that are related to our cognitive or behavioral symptoms.

When diagnosing Alzheimer’s the doctor will examine the patient for signs of other conditions or diseases that may cause the symptoms as well as to conduct some testing such as urine or blood tests. Scans such as CT and MRI may also be done to help make the diagnosis but the most important part of diagnosing the disease is still a good medical history including family history of Alzheimer’s and the symptoms history that is presented by the patient, and close family members and friends that can describe symptoms that perhaps the patient is unable to communicate to the doctor (perhaps as a result of the disease).

The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease addresses the nature of the symptoms and usually includes a combination of both medicated and non-medicated methods. The disease is also managed by looking at easing the symptoms for the comfort of the patient and to allow the patient to have as much independence as possible within a circle of safety and comfort.

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