Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia which is manifested as a deterioration in intellectual capacities that is of sufficient severity to interfere with social or occupational functioning. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which deprives individuals of their memory, judgement and language skills and the patient shows behavioural changes like depression, delusions and in later stages becomes incontinent and unable to identify friends and relatives . It is associated with diffuse loss of brain tissue.

The disease has a slow onset and a chronic , progressive course and the initial symptoms are an impairment of short term memory wherein the patient is unable to recollect recent occurrences or names of familiar people around . As the disease progresses, deficits in language become more pronounced, the patient ceases to be fluent in his speech and relies more on common nouns rather than specifically naming things and persons. Gradually simple everyday tasks become difficult to execute for eg the sequence of activities in cooking, dressing up etc and the patient fails to recognise objects or even family members. Behavioural changes like aggression, weeping, depression, visual and auditory hallucinations occur with a disorganised sleep-wake cycle and a decline in self care and the patient becomes totally dependent on others for day to day activities.

Alzheimer's disease is a resultant of genetic factors and environmental triggers . Diabetes mellitus, hypertension and head injury may increase risk of developing this disease especially if there is a strong family history.

The essential changes occur in the brain of affected individuals. There is a gradual loss of nerve cells due to disrupted metabolism of individual neurons and a cascade of ensuing aberrations results in shrinkage of the brain. The brain , which is the only site of cognition and perception loses its essential functions over a period of time and the healthy person is reduced to a dependent, lost individual who is unable to even comprehend that something is wrong with him . Apart from the agony of the patient who has no memory of the past and no concrete self identity, this disease is taxing to the care-giver and tends to drain him physically, emotionally and economically. Eventually patients are transferred to specialized institutes who care for them.

Treatment is aimed at reduction of unnecessary debility and optimization of function. Slowing down the decline of the patient, delaying institutionalization and reducing the burden on care-givers is the major goal of treatment and rehabilitation.

Considering the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in a burgeoning geriatric population, its impact on productivity and functioning capacity of the individual and the spiralling medical costs involved in caring for them, the need is for a definitive, multidisciplinary, therapeutic approach towards this problem. Current medical treatment like use of NSAIDs, statins, cholinesterase inhibitors, beta amyloid antibodies and Namenda are aimed at reducing inflammatory damage to the brain. A lack of satisfactory response to this line of treatment has brought the focus on Homeopathy as a viable option.

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"Dr. Samuel Hahnemann"


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