The early recognition of Alzheimer’s disease can be enormously significant for the patient.
These days, in contrast to earlier times, we have highly effective medicines that can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and give the patient back his memory.
Alzheimer’s disease is barely perceptible when it sets in.
An increasing tendency to forget things, declining powers of judgment, orientation problems, speech difficulties and frequent absent-mindedness indicate that something is not quite right with the person in question.
We refer to this as the first stage of the disease – the onset, at which the brain starts to perish. The person affected also senses this, becomes uneasy and can foresee what lies ahead.
These symptoms are frequently accompanied by a mood that is fundamentally anxious and aggressive.
The affected person is frequently left alone with all this fear and anxiety, however, and his remarks about becoming forgetful are often – even when visiting the doctor – not regarded as sufficient grounds for further differential diagnostic examinations.
At this early stage, only an experienced doctor is capable of using differential diagnosis to distinguish between a dementia-related deterioration process in the brain and a depression.
A great deal of neurological diagnosis is required for the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to be recognised in good time and treated immediately.
Over the past few years the neurological sciences have done magnificent work in the field of Alzheimer therapy.
Unfortunately, doctors are not yet devoting sufficient attention to this problem.
Another problem emerges in the analysis of the costs of modern Alzheimer therapy.
If we take the epidemiological data into consideration, however, the immense scale of the problem that lies ahead should be clear to all of us:
More than 6 % of people aged 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
In Germany, more than 1.2 million people currently suffer from dementia.
5 % of all 65 year-olds contract Alzheimer’s disease.
10 to 12 % of all 75 year-olds contract Alzheimer’s disease.
24 % of all 80 year-olds contract Alzheimer’s disease, in other words one-quarter of our country’s 80-year-olds suffer from an Alzheimer-related dementia.
The frequency of the disease increases with advancing age.
In 2040, however, the over-60s in Germany will make up no less than 36 % of the entire population, in other words they will account for around 26 million people compared with 16 million today. Of these, 5 % will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
These health policy data provide ample proof that swift action is required.
To my great astonishment, our state has – in my opinion – paid only limited attention to this problem.
A sound diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease depends not only on the extensive questioning of the person affected and his/her dependents, but also on a host of further examinations. Memory tests, imaging diagnostics, EEG examinations and, for differential diagnosis, additional neurological examinations (Doppler ultrasonography, evoked potential) must be conducted as and when required.
An exact diagnosis cannot be made until there is a synthesis of all of the results.
Once the diagnosis has been made, modern treatment measures such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors must be initiated right away.
In Germany we have access to all of the latest means of recognising the Alzheimer syndrome at an early stage and treating it.
Unfortunately, these endeavours often founder on financial limits in the public health insurance funds system, whilst budgets for health care and medicine frequently hinder the provision of sound diagnosis and therapy.
The early recognition of an Alzheimer syndrome, however, is vitally important for the further course of the illness.
An individual brain-fit_test can help you to assess your risk (IGEL).