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Definition of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease was described for the first time there are more than 100 years. Alzheimer's disease is closely linked to aging and the lengthening of the average life, is characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive functions, and is accompanied by behavioral disorders.

Risks and origins of Alzheimer's disease

Nearly 350,000 people receive care for Alzheimer's and related diseases. This condition should continue to grow in the coming years due to the increase in life expectancy: Alzheimer's disease has been decided "national cause" in 2007. A government plan "Alzheimer's 2008-2012" is underway to strengthen research on the disease and improve the care of patients.

Causes and mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease has an unknown origin. The brain of patients with this disease senile plaques and degeneration. Related to aging, Alzheimer's disease may be earlier onset, with approximately 10,000 new patients each year under age 60.

Repeated trauma to the head (boxers ...), as well as certain diseases (hypertension, diabetes ...) could play a role in the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

The evolution differs from one patient to another, but it is marked by a worsening of the disorder over time.
Symptoms first discrete and touching only the immediate memory of recent events, the memory loss is more pronounced. Impaired judgment and reasoning deteriorate. Language disorders appear a second time, with difficulty making elaborate gestures and simple gestures. With disorientation (time and space), the non-recognition of loved ones, home maintenance becomes difficult, especially as mood and behavior make relations difficult for the environment.

All these symptoms usually has an impact with eating disorders that cause weight loss may be important. Ultimately, the dependence is total until the death of the patient.

With what must it be confused with Alzheimer's disease?

Only an examination of the brain at autopsy can make the definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, all the medical approach is to eliminate the symptoms of other diseases relatives, some are curable (depression, stroke, drug effects ...).

Is there a prevention possible?

The only possible prevention is to limit the evolution. Psychological support and psychocomportemental integral part of treatment, with memory exercises and socialization to renew the patient's home with the family.

Physiotherapy can mobilize the sickest patients. The house can quickly become a danger, should prevent accidents: label doors, drawers and furniture to easily identify and locate their content to accompany the patient to move about (or bracelet with name and address) to ensure that immediate environment presents little danger.

Small "tricks" to facilitate communication, such as sick leave at pictures of his house, his street and his family with the names listed on the back.

When to consult?

An early treatment can improve the lives of patients and their families. Consultations memory are implemented in hospitals (360 consultations currently in place). They allow screening for disease, for example to memory problems and reassure patients and their families in case of benign disorders.

What is the doctor?

The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease may take time, because no test can say with certainty. Examinations performed (CT, MRI, blood ...) are useful to rule out other causes.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the management is multidisciplinary (physician, neurologist, social worker ...) with one objective: to maintain the patient at home as long as possible in good conditions. Many aids are available and facilitate this maintenance, while relieving families who bear the burden.

Alzheimer's disease is part of the list of long-term illnesses (ALD), including the cost of care and treatment is covered at 100% of the price of the Social Security Insurance.

Drugs available today do not cure Alzheimer's disease but hinder its development. They help fight against agitation, depression, hallucinations ...

How to prepare my next visit?

Note on a notebook to carry always with you, appointments or tasks to accomplish each day: it helps the everyday and can also identify reportable events to the doctor. Attending physician becomes a partner to coordinate decision supported.

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