Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. It usually affects older adults and appears after the age of 65 although there is evidence that the symptoms of this disease can appear much earlier even after the age of 40 when the affected individual suffers from the very rare genetic condition caused by a mutation in one of the several genes.
How this disease manifests itself?
Alzheimer’s disease belongs to a group of progressive diseases that affect the brain and lead to the formation of certain structures that disturb connections between nerve cells and transmission of signals through the brain and gradually lead to the disappearance of the brain tissue. It develops slowly, and as it progresses and the brain tissue becomes more and more damaged many symptoms appear that suggest the existence of this disease and as the time passes and the disease reaches its last stages they worsen and become more serious and disrupt the normal life of people who suffer from this disease.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms that appear in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are difficulties with learning new things and acquiring new information and memory lapses that gradually become more and more frequent. Problems with clear thinking and reasoning as well as problems with perception and communication will follow shortly after the first symptoms. In this stage of disease, individuals will have troubles with keeping attention and following and leading a normal conversation. Their concentration will weaken until they are no longer able to solve problems alone or orientate in the space and time. As the disease progresses slowly towards its last stages people who suffer from it will begin to experience frequent changes in behavior and mood and become nervous, sad or depressed suddenly and without any reason. They will sleep poorly and begin to hallucinate and hear and see things that do not exist until they begin to behave in the ways that are not typical for them and develop aggressive behavior.
What stands behind the aggressive behavior of Alzheimer’s patients?
There were many attempts to discover what triggers aggressive behavior in individuals who have Alzheimer's disease. Numerous studies appeared, and all of them more and less agree that although people with Alzheimer’s disease have the same needs as everyone else, it may be hard sometimes for them to recognize these needs and define them. They may not know how to meet them and communicate to others what they need and all that can result in their acting in the ways that others might find unusual and aggressive. That may be their way of satisfying their needs or their attempts to communicate them to other people and seek help. Alzheimer’s aggression is also often linked to the personality of the affected individual and his/her behavior before he/she developed this disease. Some studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients are sometimes aggressive because of many side effects of this disease and medications that they use such as headaches, nausea, and constipation. Besides these, there are many other biological, social and psychological causes behind the Alzheimer’s aggression and understanding what is the cause of patient’s behavior can help carers to find a solution and facilitate the life of their patients.