Alzheimer's Disease Treatments

Alzheimer's symptoms are generally found in patients who are over 65 years old although less than 10 percent of all cases can be diagnosed in much younger patients. Some people have required Alzheimer's disease treatments as young as the mid-thirties, but this is relatively rare. The illness was not recognized until the early 1900's by a doctor in Germany and was eventually named after that physician. Victims of the mental disorder experience a deterioration of brain cells that particularly affect the area of memory. Other areas of the brain are eventually affected as well, leaving the patient with not only memory loss but difficulties with speech and vision. Many patients also present with emotional difficulties from the continued destruction of brain cells.

Researchers have not determined the exact cause of the disorder, but do know that it is hereditary. Before Alzheimer's symptoms even appear, the illness can begin brain deterioration 5 or 10 years before any symptomology is apparent in many people. Since the brain easily adjusts to nerve cell damage by functioning on fewer than is available, the disorder is slow to appear as cells die until there are no more cells to promote normal brain functioning. While it is known that the disease is hereditary, researchers also believe that it can be brought on by some environmental circumstances.

Environmental cues such as depression, head trauma or exposure to metals such as aluminum are believed to be some of the causes of the disorder. Most medical professionals attribute a multiplicity of factors and site both genetics as well as environmental causes to be responsible for the illness in many people. The fact that it is heavily considered to be hereditary causes much concern in families that have had members who have required Alzheimer's disease treatments. Symptoms progress with the illness and eventually take a patient from mildly forgetful to completely helpless in taking care of himself. There are generally three stages of symptoms that show the progression of the disorder as it ravages the brain. The first stage is mild in symptoms and may even appear normal for some people such as intermittent memory loss regarding recently occurring events.

Patients can easily forget names or places as well as where they have placed an object such as their glasses or keys. This mild stage also may show some personality changes as the patient becomes more easily agitated and begins to lose personal motivation for typical activities in life. The second stage is considered the middle of the disorder for most patients who experience more severe memory loss. They may begin to withdraw from social activities and become more dependent on family members for every day functions. The third stage presents with the most severe of all Alzheimer's symptoms which includes no concept of place or time, no ability to recognize family or friends, extreme agitation, and no ability to take care of themselves in any way.

The disorder is difficult to diagnose and there is no definitive way to recognize the illness until after death when an autopsy is performed on the brain. In fact, other medical problems such as dementia can mimic the illness, but can be treated. Only a medical professional that is properly trained in diagnosing and providing Alzheimer's disease treatments can make a definitive diagnosis by executing a battery of tests, collecting family history and compiling ongoing symptomology of a patient. Even after a diagnosis has been made based on a patient's Alzheimer's symptoms, there are no effective treatments available to delay or prevent a patient's continued brain cell damage. There are a few drugs that have been formulated that can offer relief from some symptoms in various patients. Not all patients respond the same way, so even the few drugs that are available may not be effective for everyone. Drug companies continue to conduct research into medications that may effectively cure or inhibit the disorder, but as of the present, there are no hopeful answers on the horizon.

Those who have been diagnosed with the illness are not the only ones who experience the severe difficulties associated with the disorder. Family members of someone who is diagnosed experience the sadness and difficulty of watching a loved one slowly slip away from them as their personality, physical abilities and memory disappears. "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) Many times families are faced with the responsibilities of caring for their loved ones as long as they are able to and then, must make a most difficult decision of when to admit them to a nursing care center. There are special homes that provide Alzheimer's disease treatments and care for the afflicted that can offer what a family cannot offer at the severe stages of the illness. There are also support groups that can help families know how to care for their ill family member as well as how to make difficult decisions that are best for the patient and family.

Parkinson's Disease Support Groups

Parkinson's disease support groups can help a person cope with the physical and emotional changes caused by the illness. Support is very important with the disease because the progression of the illness can eventually lead to total disability and early death. Dealing with the symptoms at times can be very difficult; the patient who does not feel isolated and alone will do much better both emotionally and physically than someone who feels like they are all alone and have no help. The symptoms of Parkinson's disease are confusion, loss of muscle function, memory loss, anxiety, skin problems, muscle atrophy, and dementia. Some other signs of the disease may include muscle stiffness, trouble walking, loss of balance, muscle aches, difficulty speaking, difficulty eating, and gastrointestinal problems.

Parkinson's is caused by a problem in the brain with nerve cells. The nerve cells stop making the neurotransmitter called dopamine which affects muscles and motor function. There is no cure but there are treatments that help with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Speculations on the cause of the illness include abnormal genes that are affected by the aging process and environmental influences. Environmental influences may include toxic chemicals, air and water pollution, detergents, dyes, perfumes, and preservatives found in processed foods. There has been some speculation that aluminum included in antiperspirants and deodorants can lead to Parkinson's but there is not conclusive proof that this is true.

Treatments for the disorder usually include prescription drugs, exercise, physical therapy, and eating a healthy diet. Parkinson's disease support groups can help a person to find comfort in knowing how others are coping with the changes and progression with the illness. People with prolonged illness often suffer with depression and may need treatment for depression along with other treatment. Antidepressants can have a positive effect on neurotransmitter levels helping the symptoms of depression and can have a positive effect on aches and pain that often accompany the disorder.

Some people develop the disorder at an earlier age but in most cases the symptoms of Parkinson's disease do not usually manifest until a person turns 50 or older. To diagnose the illness a doctor will normally rule out other disorders that have the similar symptoms. Stroke and brain tumors may cause a person to exhibit some of the signs of the illness so these need to be ruled out before a firm diagnosis is made. A neurological scan can diagnose how well the nerves are working. Muscle strength and reflexes are checked along with vision and other motor functions. A physician will also take into consideration the patients past medical history and family medical history.

The disorder may progress very slowly over time gradually lowering the quality of life. Although there is no cure research is being done in the effort of trying to find the cause and cure for the disorder. The methods of treatment that are available today primarily treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. With the proper course of medicine a person with the disease can live a fulfilling life. Since medical science has yet to determine the cause of the disorder then there is no way that a person can hope to prevent it. The best advice for prevention would be the same for trying to prevent any disease and that is to live a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of exercise, eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep.

A patient with Parkinson's disease may benefit greatly from physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Since many of the symptoms involve motor functions and muscles groups, physical therapy can help the patient to regain some control of those functions. Speech therapy can help a patient who has difficulty talking and occupational therapy can help a patient to find an occupation so that he or she can become independent. In addition, involvement with Parkinson's disease support groups can help the emotional and mental state of the patient. The main goal with any wellness plan is to offer the patient wellness in every area of his or her life. Another very important area that should not be neglected is the patient's spiritual state. Studies have shown that those who are involved and engaged in faith based therapy do better than those who are not. Reading God's word can have a healing affect on the whole person. "My son, attend to My words; incline thine ear unto My sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh" {Proverbs 4:20-22). Scripture helps to increase a person's faith and gives comfort, hope, and peace in the midst of a troubling situation.

Some of the possible complications associated with Parkinson's disease may include difficulty performing daily tasks such as eating, getting dressed, bathing, and other household chores. To help the patient there may be a need for a health care provider to provide home care for the patient. Those who belong to Parkinson's disease support groups may be able to suggest other things that can be done that will benefit the patient at home. Support groups usually consist of members who help one another and are there when another member is hurting. There are also other organizations that provide care for those who are disabled by providing services that help with household chores and even provide meals.

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