Some people seek to live isolated, but few choose to be alone. And it is merely because we do not see it as a good thing. Several studies point out that loneliness is not just a problem of unhappiness. It affects mortality. It is also associated with the deterioration of mental health and more surprisingly cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and dementia. Studies in the United Kingdom carried out in recent decades consistently show that older adults feel alone or very lonely. It is estimated that more than one million people over 65 always say they feel alone. The main factor that ensures a good quality of life has social relationships. The good news is that people can recover from the problem generated by loneliness, it is not a lifelong condition.
Alzheimer’s: prevention and early detection
World Alzheimer’s Day was celebrated, for that reason, we wanted to dedicate this month’s article to the importance of prevention and early detection of this dreaded disease.
The aging of the global population has become a fact known by all. We also have to understand that turning years is not synonymous with Alzheimer’s. It is true that age is a risk factor for dementia, that is, the lower the probability of suffering it, but there is no causal relationship.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease, is one of the many causes that can cause dementia. It involves the progressive affectation of cognitive functions such as memory, language, attention, orientation and executive functions (planning, problem-solving, sequencing, solving a problem, working memory, self-regulation of behavior … ). In this sense, the life of the person suffering from this disease and its environment (family, social, work, economic) are severely affected. Also, the figures are alarming: there are more and more people who have some dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease, and the data that are predicted are not encouraging. Therefore, the professionals that work in this field.
When we refer to prevention, it is about putting in place measures that protect us or reduce the chances of suffering any pathology. In the subject that concerns us, non-pharmacological therapies (TNF) are particularly relevant. It refers to non-chemical interventions, theoretically supported, focused and replicable, carried out on the patient or the caregiver and capable of obtaining a corresponding benefit (Muñiz and Olazarán, 2009). These therapies can also be applied to people who are not diagnosed, who do not present any alteration to strengthen their brain. The efficacy of TNF is based on concepts such as neuroplasticity and the cognitive reserve, of which we spoke in the previous article. Working on prevention, if a person is “destined” to suffer AD, it is very likely that he will experience symptoms at a later age, that they will be less aggressive, and even that he will not be able to manifest them.
As for early detection, I want to emphasize, again, that aging is not synonymous with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It may take several decades since the alterations begin in our brain until the first symptoms are manifested. Therefore, it is not a pathology that starts when the person is older. The following can be considered as alarm signals:
- Problems in memory that make it difficult today: forget information just learned, forget dates or essential events, give/ask the same information or question repeatedly …
- Temporal and spatial disorientation: dates, seasons and the passage of time are forgotten. They may not know where they are or how they got there.
- Difficulty planning and solving problems: following recipes, keeping accounts, not knowing what to do if a domestic problem arises …
- Difficulty to perform usual tasks in any environment (at home, work, leisure)
- Problems in the perception and recognition of images and the relationships between them.
- Language: problems in following or participating in a conversation, repetitions, inappropriate use of concepts, difficulty in finding the correct word …
- Place objects out of place and not be able to locate them.
- Decrease or lack of judgment or reasoning: pay less attention to personal hygiene, spend money unnecessarily and uncontrollably …
- Loss of initiative to carry out activities previously carried out (work, leisure, social relations)
- Changes in mood, personality: they can be confused, depressed, anxious, suspicious …
It is essential that in the presence of any of the aforementioned warning signs that significantly interfere in the person’s daily life, they should contact a specialist. The importance of early detection lies in the benefits of early intervention. With cognitive stimulation, it is possible to slow the decline of higher functions and reduce the appearance of behavioral disorders, improving the quality of life not only of the person suffering from the disease but also of their relatives.