ALZHEIMER MENTAL DISEASE
It is a neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s) mental illness) that manifests as cognitive impairment and behavioral disorders. It is characterized in its typical form by a progressive loss of memory, and of other mental abilities; as nerve cells (neurons) die in different areas of the brain or atrophy.
The disease usually has an average duration of approximately 10 - 12 years, although this can vary significantly from one patient to another. International Alzheimer’s Day is celebrated on September 21, the date chosen by the WHO and the International Alzheimer’s Federation.
ALWAYS HAVE PRESENT
Older age is the leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (higher frequency at an older age). Although in a minority of cases it can occur at ages less than 60 years. Between 2% and 3% of those under 65 show signs of the disease; while it goes up to 25% and 50% in those over 85 years old.
The diagnosis is based first on the patient’s history and clinical observation. Memory and intellectual functioning tests are performed over a series of weeks or months. Blood tests and scans are also performed to rule out alternative diagnoses. There is no pre-mortem test to diagnose Alzheimer’s conclusively.
Its causes have not been completely discovered; although they have been related to the abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain of patients. In a minority of patients; Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the appearance of mutations in the PSEN1, PSEN2 and APP genes. In this case the
The disease appears in early times of life and is transmitted from parents to children (so there are usually family histories of Alzheimer’s disease at early ages).
The most common symptoms of the disease are alterations in mood and behavior, memory loss, orientation difficulties, language problems and cognitive changes.
The loss of memory goes as far as the non-recognition of close relatives, or the forgetting of traditional skills for the individual. Other symptoms are changes in behavior such as outbursts of violence in people who do not have a history of these characteristics. In the final phases, the musculature and mobility deteriorate, and urinary and fecal incontinence may occur.