Symptoms and Causes to Alzheimer-type dementia
What is Alzheimer-type dementia?
Forgetfulness often makes patients aware of Alzheimer-type dementia, and patients with Alzheimer-type dementia gradually become unable to perform activities of daily living that they had previously been able to perform. Alzheimer-type dementia is characterized by the subject’s inability to memorize and remember new things and to recognize the time and place. In addition, some patients have symptoms such as delusions of theft and wandering.
Abnormal proteins, including beta and tau proteins accumulate in the brain, leading to the death of neurons and brain atrophy (shrinkage). Atrophy begins in the hippocampus, which is the brain area responsible for memory, and gradually spreads to all areas of the brain.
Patients with Alzheimer-type dementia cannot remember and soon forget what they have newly experienced, for example, they may have had a meal, but soon forget the experience itself of having eaten the meal. Furthermore, they sometimes do not know what the date is, whether it is day or night or where they currently are, and often fail to recognize the faces of family members. Furthermore, the ability to make judgments and to understand is reduced, resulting in their inability to prepare meals or calculate change at shopping.
Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD)
Symptoms such as abulia/indifference, delusions, wandering, depression, excitement and violence may occur during the course.
Physical symptoms are not prominent until the disease has progressed to more advanced stages.
Points of management by family members
Do not deny what the patient says, but listen to the patient carefully.
Since patients forget soon and repeat the same questions or behaviors many times, family members and care providers often become irritated. Another example of the delusion that “the wallet was stolen” may be real for the patient, and even if you tell him/her that you did not steal the wallet, he/she will not believe you.
- Even if you are told the same story, you should listen with a calm mind, as if you are listening to the story for the first time.
- If the patient says “I haven’t eaten a meal yet” after a meal, you should not say “But you just ate your meal?”, but “okay, let us eat a meal now.”