The ageing process slows down physical and cognitive functions to some extent. However, when such degeneration becomes more apparent, it could be an indication of the need for medical attention.
More than half of Dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Colloquially known as Alzheimer’s, it is chronic neurodegenerative disease that gradually affects various aspects of cognitive function that in turn influence behaviour and social interactions.
When coping with an ageing population, Alzheimer’s is a critical challenge. Besides physical injury due to the lack of stability, psychological factors such as depression, anxiety and loneliness can be reasons that contribute to the condition. The onset of AD has been shown to surface at an average of 65 years of age and deterioration, is variable.
AD has been shown to have seven stages of regression as detailed below
Stage 1: No Impairment – No symptoms of AD may be medically identified at this stage.
Stage 2: Very Mild Decline – The symptoms of memory loss may be mistaken as part of the natural ageing process. The major cognitive functions of the patient are not affected.
Stage 3: Mild Decline – This is the stage were signs and symptoms become more noticeable and physicians may be able to detect the condition. Mild loss of vocabulary, identification of people and organisational skills may be hampered.
Stage 4: Moderate Decline: Numeracy skills are affected at this stage and hence, personal financial management becomes challenging. The patient may also not be able to remember specific events.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline: Patients at this stage require some assistance with activities of daily living, in particular, dressing. They appear confused and are unable to recall details about themselves.
Stage 6: Severe Decline: Severe behavioral and personality changes are experienced at this stage requiring consistent caregiver attention. Greater assistance is required for activities of daily living and the patient often experience loss of bowel and bladder control.
Stages 7: Very Severe Decline: This is the terminal stage where often, only palliative care can be recommended. The patient loses the understanding and ability to respond to the environment. Speech and the ability to swallow are severely impaired.
As we have seen AD is a sever condition that impairs cognitive function and weighs down on caregiving. Maintaining an active lifestyle that includes physical and psychological activity together with a healthy diet may help in possibly slowing down the progression of the disease.
About 30 minutes a day!
That’s the physical activity required to keep the ageing body healthy. Low impact exercise can keep the body physically active. A collective setting such as a yoga class for example, allows for interaction that keeps the mind alert and something to look forward to. Moreover, regular physical exercise has shown to have positive links to overall physical and psychological health.
One of the key physical causes of AD is said to be head injury. Falls are also common among the elderly. To keep strong, balance and coordination exercises are recommended. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
Social Engagement and Mental Stimulation
Most activities mentioned above are collective, hence allowing for interaction with others, the sharing of experiences and keeping active. Engaging in a hobby would not just help learn a skill but also provide for some challenge and adventure.
Collective activities develop new friendships and provide a form of support to both caregiver and patient alike.
The formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are thought to contribute to the degradation of the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the subsequent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
A diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids shows that DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. . While these can be consumed as health supplements, they can be naturally found in Salmons, Tuna and Sardines
While Alzheimer’s disease may not be completely preventable, it can be avoided or its progress can be slowed down to some extent. Safe and effective dietary supplements that are combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet assist in sustaining overall health in the long-term
The articles published on www.prime.sg are intended to provide tips for health and lifestyle for individuals aged 40 years and above. The articles are based on secondary research and do not represent the opinion of the author, Spring Publishing Pte Ltd or any mentioned third party. Spring Publishing Pte Ltd recommends professional consultation in medical treatments and will hold no responsibility for medical causes or consequences of the information contained in articles