Alzheimer's Disease

Manila Bulletin, February 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Alzheimer's Disease


e use the world inuulyanin freely to describe one who is forgetful, who tends to tell the same story repeatedly ... over and over again. It goes with the territory of getting old.

It happens even to folks who are not old. You could be introducing someone and then you stop cold because you cant remember the persons name even if shes a relative! Or... you seem to forget little things like where you left your key or your cellphone ... goodness where did I put my glasses? It could be a simple matter of absent-mindedness. Or it could be the beginning of alzheimers disease, a form of dementia. What is dementia? According to the Alzheimers Disease Assocation of the Philippines (ADAP), dementia is a group of signs and symptoms characterized by a progressive deterioration of ones mental abilities. This in turn leads to an impairment of social and occupational functions. Dementia usually occurs in elderly people but it may also affect younger people. One things sure it is not part of normal aging. The early signs of dementia may be brushed off as simple forgetfulness until it become persistent such as ... repeatedly asking the same questions over and over again, short span of attention and memory, frequently losing objects, etc. Increasingly, the patient becomes unable to perform ordinary tasks that one has been doing for years, such as work at the office or in the house and even answering the phone. Impaired reasoning abilities. We see this often in old people, that irritating bullheadedness when they insist in doing something in a particular way even when theres a better way of doing it. They tend to be so irrational when making plans or solving problems. Gradually, they seem lost all the time... that is, literally lost in their own home and neighborhood. They are frequently confused about their whereabouts and even about time. They lose their ability to talk sensibly until, in severe cases, they clamp up altogether. Behavioral changes. Gradually, one detects changes in the patients behavior. He or she becomes cold and detached, eventually unresponsive to ones surroundings and to people. It seems as though the person, although physically present, is far off in thought. Others may become physically violent and aggressive, suspicious to the point of paranoia. They may rage and slash at anyone and become easily agitated. The mother of another friend became so paranoid that she began hiding her jewelry all over the house and garden. According to the ADAP, there are 70 types of dementia that may be partially or completely reversible such as those caused by brain tumors, hypothyroidism, grugs and psychiatric disorders. Cases that are irreversible include Alzheimers Dementia (AD), the most common form of dementia. Its most important symptom is lost of memory. The children, for instance, of a AD patient would say He doesnt recognize us anymore. Or... he cant remember what he did this morning or ate for lunch. …

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