Alzheimer’s disease

Posted on 25 September 2013

Dr John Gardiner, a neurologist at Mediclinic Constantiaberg, talks about Alzheimer’s.

What are the warning signs of Alzheimer’s?
Memory loss alone does not mean someone has Alzheimer’s. There must another area of cognitive decline. This could language problems such as difficulty in naming objects; finding it hard to dress oneself; a lapse in personal hygiene standards; extreme mood swings; strange behavior such as taking clothes off in public; getting lost in familiar places; suspicion of other people.

How do I care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease?
Firstly, it is essential you to take care of yourself – you are a very important person in the life of a person with dementia. If necessary seeking counseling to help you cope with the personal and emotional stress of caring for that person. Alzheimer’s South Africa (www.alzheimers.org.za) says ‘Understanding your emotions will help you successfully cope with the person’s problems as well as your own. You are important in the life of the person with dementia. Without you, that person would be lost. This is why it is essential to take care of yourself.’

Is Alzheimer’s disease becoming more prevalent?
More people are living longer – reaching the age of 80 – which means that there are larger numbers of people being diagnosed with the condition. The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry states that, as the global population ages, nearly 35,6-million people are estimated to be living with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050 (if effective medications are not developed). This does not, however, mean that getting Alzheimer’s is an automatic part of ageing. Of those who reach 80-years-old there is a 1:4 chance of developing age-related Alzheimer’s.

Some people, who have the disease, may see a steady decline and, for others, there may be a period when their condition seems to stay the same.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Neurology

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