Alzheimer’s disease (»Alzheimer’s«) is named after the neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who first described it scientifically in 1906. It is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 60 to 70 percent of the 50 million dementia patients worldwide. The disease is a neurodegenerative disease (alongside Parkinson’s disease). These diseases are accompanied by a progressive loss of nerve cells and cell functions, which at some point is so great that the brain can no longer compensate for it.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the deposit of certain proteins in the brain, beta-amyloid and tau protein. Depending on the stage of the disease (mild, moderate, severe), typical symptoms include memory loss, disorientation, problems with speech, difficulties performing familiar activities, and personality changes. These disorders may vary in severity, and increase as the disease progresses. As a result, everyday life can no longer be managed alone and patients are increasingly dependent on support. The quality of life of those affected and their relatives is significantly reduced as a result.
Alzheimer’s disease is not curable and its progression cannot be stopped. However, through the use of various drug and non-drug therapies, it is now possible to slow the progression of the disease and alleviate symptoms. The primary goal is to train or maintain the mental abilities, to reduce behavioural disorders and to improve general patient well-being. Particularly in the early stages of the disease, a well-coordinated combination of therapeutic measures can make a decisive contribution to maintaining patient independence and quality of life and relieving the burden on family members providing care.
In order to intervene effectively in the course of the disease, treatment should be started as early as possible. The basis for this is an accurate diagnosis by a doctor.