Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan
Psikiyatrist

The Start of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a disorder that generally occurs at increased ages. Deteriorations occur in the attention and memory skills during the course of the disorder. Of course, there is a significant point to pay attention on while diagnosing Alzheimer’s.

Specific cognitive deteriorations may occur during the natural aging processes of the people. The normal aging process and the early periods of the disorder may show similarities. While slight deteriorations are observed in the memory during the initial phases, no deteriorations can be seen in the reasoning processes and in daily individual activities.

The fact that cognitive and functional skills deteriorate much faster in people having the disorder is one of the most apparent differences between a person going through the normal aging process and a person who is at the commencement phase of Alzheimer’s. The memory-oriented area of the brain starts to get damaged in the initial phase, therefore absentmindedness is the first symptom that attracts attention.

What are the Initial Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

Generally, it can be very difficult to determine if anything is wrong with the patient in the initial phases of the disorder. Because some findings detected can be interpreted as the impact of environmental factors. We can make references to specific symptoms that are observable by the families of the patients. If the person suddenly pauses and forgets what s/he is about to say during a conversation, if s/he has difficulty in pronouncing the words, if s/he has difficulty in remembering their recent memories, if s/he puts their belongings on other places than their usual places and fails to find them for a long time, if they have started to have difficulties in a skill they used to do easily, if s/he experiences sudden anger and tension without any valid reason, then an expert should be immediately consulted. Because these symptoms may be the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The person will start to have difficulties in meeting their individual needs in the advanced stages of the disorder. It will be difficult for them to even take a shower, to comb their hair. Choosing clothes that are not fit for the season, hiding or hoarding some articles are among the situations that are observable in the advanced stages of the disorder.

Anxious attitudes and behaviors, which are frequently observed in Alzheimer’s patients, are increasingly continuing in the advanced stages of the disorder. Wandering around without a purpose, or failure to stand still at the places they are present are among the significant symptoms. Sleep disorders caused by this disorder called Alzheimer’s are also among the situations observed frequently. While a constant state of sleep is observed at the beginning of Alzheimer’s, even the nighttime sleep of the patient is deteriorated, and they might stay awake for days without any sleep during the advanced stages of the disorder. Due to this anxious situation, patients do not want their caregivers or family members to leave them. Sometimes, they can demand illogical things, which they become persistent in.

All these symptoms are behavioral patterns that generally put the relatives and caregiver of the patient in very difficult situations. However, we must say that the stoical, tolerant and supportive behaviors shown by the relatives of the patient have a serious therapeutic effect. The patient should not be moved away from their social circles, and their current orders should not be changed significantly. It will be easier to cope with the disorder by getting an expert support during this process.

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