Alzheimer’s disease

We have all heard of Alzheimer’s disease, we all know that this is a disease that affects our memory and makes us forget things. As an optimistic nation, we also believe that “that won’t happen to me” or “that won’t happen to somebody I know” but the truth is Alzheimer’s disease is a lot more common than you think. Studies show that 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in 6 over the age of 80 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although people may look at these figures and assume that only older people will be affected, this is an unjustified assumption as in the UK alone 17,000 people under the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and experts believe this to be an underestimate.

Knowing a few simple facts about the disease could make a massive difference to you, or a loved one, as early diagnosis has many benefits which include treatment, future planning as well as obtaining advice and support.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of Dementia. The term Dementia describes a set of symptoms which include memory loss, mood changes and also communication and reasoning issues. Symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by disease and other medical conditions. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and over time more areas of the brain are damaged. As this happens symptoms become worse. Recognising symptoms is key to early diagnosis.

What are the symptoms?• Confusion, forgetting simple everyday things such as names and appointments
• Mood swings, feeling sad or angry, scared or frustrated by the recent memory loss
• Becoming withdrawn, loss of confidence and communication problems
• Having difficulty carrying out day to day activities such as checking change in a shop, or forgetting to work everyday items such as the TV remote

These are the main symptoms and if you feel they apply to yourself, or somebody you know, even if just one symptom is present you should seek help from the GP as soon as possible. If you feel concerned for a relative, then encourage them to make an appointment.

What is the cause?

There is no known cause for Alzheimer’s disease, however research has shown that factors increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s include smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Not smoking and having regular blood pressure and cholesterol testing can all reduce your risk.

Diagnosis

When you seek help from a GP, they will first of all rule out anything else which could be causing the symptoms, they may also seek help/advice from a specialist. There is no straightforward test for Alzheimer’s disease but don’t despair, as making that appointment is the first step towards getting help.

Treatment

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease however there are drug treatments available which will alleviate symptoms and slow down progression.

If you, or somebody you know has Alzheimer’s disease then Cohen’s can help! We offer a number of services which can be beneficial, including our Monitored Dosage System (MDS). The MDS system allows the patient’s medication to be dispensed into a weekly tray, breaking down days and times of medication regimes. This also allows carers or other professionals to see if medication is not being taken regularly, or even at all. We also offer a Patient Collection Service, which involves us ordering your repeat prescription on your behalf, then following the prescription up at the surgery and dispensing your medication. You can then either collect your medication directly from us, or you can have it delivered straight to your home! Please don’t hesitate to speak to your local pharmacist if you are interested in these services. We are here to help.