Alzheimer : The signs

Alzheimer's disease was discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1907. It is a neurodegenerative disease (progressive damage to neurons) that causes difficulties in carrying out daily activities.

What is Alzheimer's disease?

There are several signs of Alzheimer's disease. This disease is often described as the disease of memory. Memory problems are indeed one of the symptoms of the disease but cognitive functions are also affected.

An insidious onset and a progressive evolution characterize it. However, each person with Alzheimer's disease is affected differently. It is therefore difficult to specify the order of the symptoms' appearance or the progression pace.

What are the signs of Alzheimer's disease?

Memory disorders :

At the beginning of the disease, the disorders will relate to forgetfulness of recent events (an appointment, an object not found).

The person then gradually loses his or her ability to :

To memorize new information

Understand a conversation

To make oneself understood is difficult.

These disorders lead to spatial and temporal disorientation.

Aphasic disorders (language)

Language is also altered during the onset of Alzheimer's disease. At first, the person will have a lack of words. Then the speech will be more and more impoverished and the comprehension capacities will decrease.

Praxic disorders (gestures)

Among the signs of Alzheimer's disease, we have praxis disorders which are also present in the clinical picture of the disease.

At first, the apraxia will concern the execution of elaborate gestures (writing, household tasks, use of household appliances). Then, at a more advanced stage, she can no longer produce the simplest gestures (use of cutlery, chewing, getting dressed...)

Recognition disorders 

The person with Alzheimer's disease has difficulty recognizing and naming objects.

This disorder is most often visual but can also affect other senses such as smell (does not recognize the smell of the rose), hearing and touch.

Psychobehavioral disorders

Affective and emotional disorders:

Anxiety the state of alertness, and tension often related to a feeling of fear or worry

the state of alertness, and tension often related to a feeling of fear or worry

Apathy Loss of motivation, loss of initiative

Irritability - Mood instability Person will tend to get angry quickly

Euphoria The person seems "too" happy for no apparent reason (unexpected laughter)

Depression It is characterized by sadness, pessimism, devaluation. These different symptoms are present over time.

Behavioral disorders:

Opposition Verbal or non-verbal refusal to accept care, to eat, to ensure hygiene

Agitation Excessive and inappropriate verbal or motor behavior

Agressivité Physical or verbal behavior experienced as threatening or dangerous to the resident and/or those around them

Hallucinations Sensory perceptions without a real object to perceive, most often visual and auditory

What is the treatment of the disease?

It is essential to know that the treatment of Alzheimer's is primarily social. A few drugs are on the market to treat the disease specifically, but their effectiveness has not been proven.

The treatment of the disease is essentially based on the organization of multidisciplinary care networks set up to slow down the progression of the disorders and to place people in a protected environment.

For example, speech therapists can intervene in language disorders, the physiotherapist or a psychometrician, on the deficits of walking and balance disorders...

Psychosocial approaches are also part of the treatment, such as organizing brain stimulation activities.

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