Thursday, 9th July 2020

This Month's Magazine


Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer's or Dementia

by Edwin L. F. Gladstone

There is a difference between Dementia and Alzheimer. I have seen both cases afflicting two persons dear to me.

They do not seem to cause any suffering to the afflicted who appear to be oblivious of the fact but it certainly is most distressing and upsetting for the rest of the family, even though the afflicted may be of very advanced age.

The most likely cause of dementia is age, it happens when certain brain cells get damaged through age, however this type of damage can also be caused by infections, HIV, vascular diseases, stroke, depression, or chronic drug use.

The person I know is certainly not a drug user but she is in her 90’s, nevertheless it is most distressing to see a very sharp brain not able to recognise her closest friend.

Dementia is progressive and forgetfulness and confusion grow, causing difficulty in tracking time and even recognising familiar settings, which can cause them to act aggressively or even sink into depression. In the very advanced stages, people with dementia become unable to care for themselves.

Depending on the cause, treatment of dementia can help and the conditions most likely to respond are those caused by drugs, tumours, metabolic disorders and hypoglycaemia. Unfortunately in most cases it is irreversible.

While scientists are still trying to figure out the reason for Dementia, which can happen at any age, it may be worth knowing some of the early symptoms. However it
should not be assumed that the experiencing memory problems is a conclusion of Dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairments that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.

Alzheimer on the other hand is a terminal illness for which there is no known cure at present. It is what reduced my father, an extremely intelligent person who spoke fluently 7 different languages, to act as a 6 year old child. Heartbreaking!!


The following are possible early signs:

Alzheimer is part of the different branches and types that come under the heading of Dementia but quite different although the symptoms are very similar indeed.

If you notice any of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.

With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer, as well as increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is estimated that more than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. Although younger people can and do get Alzheimer’s, the symptoms generally begin after age 60. The time from diagnosis to death can be as little as three years in people over 80 years old.
It can be much longer in younger patients.

Damage to the brain begins years before symptoms appear, it consists of abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain so that connections between cells are lost, and they begin to die. In advanced cases, the brain shows significant shrinkage.

On a happier note, scientists are in the process of developing a compound to treat stroke survivors that might help stave off Alzheimer. Recently, researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles explored an innovative new compound that the scientific community is already scrutinizing.

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