Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Graphic

Alzheimer’s disease is just one of several dementias that mostly occur in old age. The public perception is that any form of dementia is labeled as Alzheimer’s disease. In fact diagnosis is usually by exclusion of other possibilities, with a positive diagnosis only possible at post mortem. Other forms of dementia may be caused by mini strokes caused by clots in the blood vessels in the brain. HIV and Parkinson’s disease may also lead to dementia. In fact most dementias are mixed. A great deal of research has been directed at early diagnosis. Currently there is much excitement at the possible development of a skin test.

Dementia has been defined as an acquired generalized impairment of intellect, memory and personality with no impairment of consciousness. One in 14 people over 65 will suffer with the incidence increasing to one in 6 over the age of 80.

The disease is insidious with deterioration in the early and late stages relatively slow whilst there is often rapid deterioration in the middle stages. The early detection of the condition enables future planning for care and time to put ones affairs in order.

Although there are a few drugs that may slow progress of the disease, the mainstay of treatment is management of behavioural and psychological symptoms such as depression, agitation and insomnia. There is much excitement with anecdotal evidence that coconut oil may halt and even reverse the disease. Perhaps even more important is the role that care givers play in management of sufferers. It is extremely important that support be given to carers as well as sufferers.

In Zimbabwe as in other countries we have an Alzheimer’s association. They are able to provide very sound and useful practical advice to carers and families of the affected. Their contact numbers are:

ZARDA 0779714905 or Jan Wood (Chairperson) 494409 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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