When you talk about Alzheimer's disease, you think about an elderly person who has lost control of most of their mental faculties, struggling to string a coherent sentence together. You pity such people and feel bad about the ordeal they are going through. However, the reality is a little different from what we want to believe. Alzheimer’s does not only afflict people aged but can also be seen in people as young as 30. Scientists also believe that people can have Alzheimer’s for over 10-15 years before the disease is detected. Alzheimer’s disease treatment and cure largely depend on catching the illness early and treating it before the harm is done.
Alzheimer's is a prevalent disease in India, and doctors and scientists are trying to study the disease and how it affects the brain to find an effective treatment. Today over 5 million Indians are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to increase exponentially and rapidly in the next few years. As we have mentioned, the way to battle the disease is to catch it early on and get treatment as soon as possible.
However, treating Alzheimer’s can be a long and financially draining process. But if that concerns you, the solution to your problem is simple. You need to get a medical insurance plan at the earliest. Having health insurance means that any time the patient requires medical assistance, you know you can help them get it without worrying about financial strains. The most important thing to do then is to find a health insurance provider you can trust to be your companion in your journey.
If you are looking for the right health insurance policy and provider to support you while battling Alzheimer’s, allow Tata AIG to be by your side. Tata AIG’s medical insurance plan offers you a wide network of cashless hospitals, Covid care, comprehensive coverage, cost-effective prices, and the trust of Tata, among many other things. The benefits of health insurance never run out when you have a policy with us. So, when you are looking to buy a medical insurance plan, choose Tata AIG!
After getting an idea of how health insurance can help you, let us look into what is Alzheimer’s disease, what causes the disease, and how we can treat it.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer's disease is a disease that leads to the destruction of brain cells and the shrinking of one's brain size. The symptoms of the disease worsen as time goes on. It is one of the most common contributors of dementia, characterised by a steady deterioration in mental, behavioural, and social abilities and degrades a person's capacity to do things independently. Alzheimer’s is a disease that has no cure or ways to reverse it, even with the many ongoing studies on it. Many people may not realise that it is not a normal aspect of ageing and needs urgent attention if symptoms are noticed. The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's get worse with time. In fact, according to doctors, the illness process could last up to 10 years before Alzheimer's disease symptoms start to show.
When memory issues become apparent, they are frequently classified as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). At this point, the brain adjusts to the effects of the disease, affecting intellectual function but leaving the ability to operate and lead a normal life.
MCI may not continue to progress in some persons at this point. However, dementia is most likely to progress in MCI patients. The chief type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Daily function is compromised with dementia, as opposed to MCI.
Now that you have understood what Alzheimer’s disease is and what the differences between Alzheimer’s and Dementia are, let us look into the types of Alzheimer’s disease.
Types of Alzheimer's Disease
There are two basic types of Alzheimer’s disease based on the time they start showing symptoms in patients. The two types of Alzheimer’s disease are late onset and early onset Alzheimers.
- Late-Onset Alzheimer’s- Most Alzheimer's patients have the late-onset variety, whose signs first appear in their mid-60s. According to research, the late-onset type of the disease is not directly caused by any one gene. The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is located on chromosome 19, and having one variant, or allele, increases an individual's chances of developing the disease. Because it raises an individual's chances of contracting the disease, APOE 4 is a risk-factor gene. However, having the APOE 4 allele does not guarantee that a person would develop Alzheimer's. It is also possible that a person can develop Alzheimer's without having the APOE 4 allele.
- Early-Onset Alzheimer’s- Less than 10% of patients with Alzheimer's have the early-onset form of the disease, which usually manifests between the ages of 30 and 60. One among the three genes can change due to heredity in some situations. According to studies, some genetic factors appear to be involved in some cases. Researchers are currently seeking other genetic risk variations for Alzheimer's disease with early onset.
Alzheimer's Disease Stages
Many people can mistake Alzheimer’s disease for simple signs of ageing. However, keeping a keen eye, you can distinguish the various Alzheimer’s disease stages. A person's symptoms will worsen as the stages progress. Recognising these Alzheimer’s disease stages is important as they can help you aid the patient and even yourself in battling the disease.
The different Alzheimer’s disease stages are;
Stage 1- Alzheimer's disease typically develops slowly over years before anyone detects any changes in their mental state. Your loved one won't exhibit any symptoms during this early stage, so you won't be able to identify that they have Alzheimer's.
Stage 2- The patient may detect subtle variances in behaviour that even a physician would miss, even though you may not yet notice anything unusual about their behaviour. This could involve losing track of items or forgetting words. They can still work and normally live despite mild Alzheimer's disease symptoms.
Stage 3- At this time, you start to see alterations in the patient's reasoning and thought processes. You will notice symptoms such as repetitiveness, forgetting information they've recently read, or having difficulties organising themself.
Stage 4- In this stage, the cognitive and reasoning challenges you encounter in - **Stage 3 become more pronounced, and new problems emerge. The patient will become aware of any memory or cognitive gaps on their own.
Stage 5- The patient may become disoriented about their whereabouts and the time. They can have problems recalling their home address, contact information, or former school. They could become perplexed about the appropriate attire for the time of year or day.
Stage 6- The patient may recognise faces as the disease worsens but lose names. Additionally, they could confuse a person for someone else, such as believing their wife to be their mother. This is also the - **Stage where the patient becomes delusional and possibly violent.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
Protein accumulation that is out of the ordinary in the brain leads to Alzheimer's disease. These proteins, known as tau protein and amyloid protein, accumulate and cause cell death.
More than 100 billion neurons and other types of cells make up the human brain. The nerve cells carry out all the activities required to carry out tasks like thinking, memorising, remembering, and organising. Scientists suspect that the accumulation of amyloid protein leads to the formation of bigger aggregates known as plaques in the neurons. Tau tangles are made of twisted tau protein fibres. Such plaques and tangles obstruct nerve cell connection, which stops nerve cells from performing their functions. The symptoms experienced by people with Alzheimer's disease are caused by the slow and continuous destruction of the nerve fibres, which begins in one of the brain's regions (often in the part of the brain that governs memory) before progressing to other places.
Having looked at some of the causes of Alzheimer’s lets us also understand some of the risk factors that could lead to the onset of the disease.
Older people (over 65) face a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
If someone in your family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may get it too.
There have been some genes that have been identified as a cause of Alzheimer’s. If you carry those genes, your chances of developing Alzheimer's increase significantly
Those who suffer from severe depression for long periods are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s.
Smoking has been recognised as one of the triggers of Alzheimer’s.
Some heart diseases have been known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
If you have ever sustained a traumatic injury to your brain, you could be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s.
Remember that these risk factors do not necessarily mean you will have Alzheimer’s disease. It just means you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Because Alzheimer's is a degenerative illness, the signs and symptoms appear progressively over a long period and then worsen. Numerous brain functions are impacted. In most cases, mild memory issues are the initial indication of Alzheimer's disease. For instance, this can include not remembering the names of individuals and things and recent discussions or incidents. Memory issues get more severe as the illness worsens, and additional symptoms may crop up, such as:
Getting confused about where to go and whom to meet
Forgetting names and faces
Getting out of home and then forgetting where you need to be
Not remembering where you have kept certain things
Difficulty in expressing thoughts and feelings
Difficulty managing finances
Being anxious or afraid all the time
Trouble with numbers
Difficulty in driving and cooking
Having short-term recall
These are some of the most common symptoms you may notice in people in the first few stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, you may see symptoms like;
Losing patience very fast
Going into a shell
Losing motor functions like walking
Extreme mood swings
Losing trust in close people
Forgetting loved ones
Paranoia that can lead to the patient becoming increasingly violent
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, a person loses their sense of self. They may need help in the smallest of tasks. It is important to remember to be kind to the patient, even when they are being difficult. The patient may sometimes act out just to see if you will support them at their worst. Knowing they have people they can depend on makes bearing the disease much easier. Also, caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s is a full-time job. Remember to be kind to yourself if you care for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis
Since Alzheimer's disease indicators develop gradually, it might be challenging to spot a problem. Many people believe that memory issues are just a natural part of ageing. Additionally, people might not necessarily be able to recognise memory changes due to the illness itself. However, Alzheimer's disease is never a "natural" aspect of ageing. Fast and precise identification of Alzheimer's disease may offer you the best opportunity to make plans and preparations and obtain any necessary treatment or assistance.
Some ways your doctor might make an Alzheimer’s diagnosis include;
Routine Blood and Urine Cultures- Standard laboratory tests such as blood levels, liver and kidney performance, vitamin counts, thyroid hormone function and mineral balance tests are done to exclude other potential causes of symptoms.
Patient History- The doctor will inquire about the patient's present and previous illnesses, the drugs they are currently taking, and any history of Alzheimer's disease, as well as other memory impairments in the patient's family. Additionally, they will perform a neurologic exam and assess all existing vital signs, including blood pressure, heartbeat, fever, and pulse.
Neurological Tests- Tests for attention, recollection, language, planning and thinking, reasoning ability, ability to alter behaviour, temperament, and mental stability are all part of this exam. Testing of this kind can also track the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Test of Mental Status- Tests of recollection, problem-solving, concentration, calculating, and language proficiency are among these. Testing of this kind can also track the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Lumbar Puncture- This procedure, also known as a spinal tap, looks for the tau and amyloid proteins that build the plaques and tangles characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in the brains of patients.
MRI- Brain deterioration can be visibly seen on this scan. It can also detect other structural abnormalities, including strokes, tumours, fluid accumulation in the brain, and other conditions that can manifest symptoms resembling Alzheimer's disease.
CT Scan- In the later stages of Alzheimer's disease, tangible alterations in the morphology of brain cells can be detected. These changes include a reduction in brain size (brain atrophy), extension of the fluid-filled regions in the brain, and a broadening of the creases in the brain tissues.
Amyloid PET Scan- This test checks for Amyloid protein accumulation in the brain, which is a determiner of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment
Alzheimer's disease currently has no known treatment. To help you manage your symptoms and slow the spread of the illness, your doctor may suggest drugs and other therapies.
Your doctor might suggest drugs like donepezil or rivastigmine for mild to early-stage Alzheimer's treatment. The high quantities of acetylcholine these medications can keep in your brain. Your brain's nerve cells may be able to send and receive impulses more effectively. As a result, some Alzheimer's symptoms might be lessened.
Only patients with early Alzheimer's are advised to take the more recent medicine, aducanumab. It is believed to lessen the accumulation of protein plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer's. However, since this medicine is still fairly new in the market, many doctors and scientists are still wary of prescribing it as an Alzheimer's treatment.
In Alzheimer's disease, glutamate, a brain neurotransmitter, is produced in larger amounts and kills brain cells. Your medical professional might suggest memantine or donepezil to treat mild to advanced Alzheimer's. Memantine can aid in preventing the ill effects of the over-accumulation of glutamate in your brain.
Some of the frequent behavioural signs of Alzheimer's disease can be managed with medication. Antidepressant medications, for instance, can be employed to relieve depression, anxiousness, hyperactivity, and violence. Agitation can be managed using anti-anxiety medications. Aggressiveness is occasionally treated with anticonvulsants. Hallucinations, restlessness, and psychosis can all be treated with antipsychotic medications. These medicines may lead to confusion and disorientation, which might raise the risk of collapsing. Because of this, these medications are normally only used briefly when severe behavioural issues occur.
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
It is very difficult to make certain comments about Alzheimer’s disease. There have been various studies on the disease, and studies are still going on in the field, yet doctors and scientists have not been able to draw many conclusive results from their studies. However, a few factors could help keep Alzheimer’s at bay, even if we cannot prevent its onset completely.
These factors include:
Diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, and smoking can directly connect to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to research, these five indicators may hinder the brain's ability to eliminate amyloid protein, increasing the likelihood of Alzheimer's disease. A person is more likely to develop Alzheimer's if most of these health conditions exist simultaneously and are present in their 50s. If you can avoid these diseases, your likelihood of avoiding Alzheimer’s increases.
There might be some strategies to lessen the likelihood of mental decline. A healthy lifestyle generally guards against heart attacks and strokes and is thought to shield the brain against cognitive deterioration. The causes and effects of the following elements cannot be shown with certainty, although research has revealed a "positive correlation."
Keep your mind engaged. Enjoy board games, read, solve crossword puzzles, play an instrument, take community college classes on the side, or engage in other activities that call for "brain power."
Take up some exercise. Exercise improves oxygen and blood supply towards the brain, and this may have a direct impact on the health of brain cells.
If partaking in tasks that enhance the potential of head trauma, wear proper safety gear.
Maintain your social life. Regular communication with family and friends and participation in group tasks can positively decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer's.
Why Use a Medical Insurance Policy
If you are thinking about a medical insurance plan's usefulness, you should consider one thing. Life is uncertain. You can never predict what might happen from one moment to the next. Having health insurance is something tangible you can count on to protect yourself in the case of a health emergency.
Some reasons a medical insurance plan can be a boon are as follows:
Expenses Healthcare is expensive. Getting treatment, especially one that needs long-term care or hospitalisation, can drain you financially. However, if you have health insurance, healthcare expenses are not something you will need to worry about.
Lifestyle Life today is different from a few years ago. People are constantly on the move, stressed, anxious, and sometimes overworked. This gives rise to individuals who cannot take good care of themselves, making themselves vulnerable to a host of diseases. Even if you cannot give your health the time and effort it requires, at least if you have a medical insurance plan, you can rest easy knowing that you have taken a step in the right direction where your health is concerned.
Emergencies As we have already said, life is uncertain, your health is uncertain. A person who may think they are in perfect health may one day need emergency medical care. In such cases having health insurance helps you prepare to face any situation. You can be at peace knowing you can afford the care you need.
Peace of Mind Finally, health insurance allows you to rest easy, knowing that there is no health condition you will have to battle alone. Your medical insurance plan is there to help you every step of the way.
How to Buy Tata AIG’s Health Insurance
If you want to buy a medical insurance plan from Tata AIG, you will find the process very easy. You can buy health insurance from Tata AIG in two ways. These are online and offline. Here is how you can go about the process.
Online - To buy a policy from Tata AIG online, all you need to do is;
Open our website and select for who you want to buy the insurance. You can buy health insurance for yourself, your spouse, your children, and your parents.
Once you determine the insured, click on ‘Get Plan’.
Furnish the required information, and Tata AIG will suggest the best plans for you.
On the next page, select the sum insured from the drop-down to see the premium amount.
You can compare the plans to see what suits you best.
Select the plan you want to go ahead with, and click on ‘Buy Now’.
Our experts will reach out to you for further assistance.
Once you have paid the fee, your application will be processed. If your application is in place, you should receive your policy statement in a few moments.
Offline - To buy a policy offline, you must;
Locate and go to the AIG office that is closest to you
Approach the counter and mention the purpose of your visit
Our insurance expert will approach you and explain the different plans you can choose from
Once you have decided on a plan, fill out the appropriate application form
Attach the requisite documents
Go to the counter and submit your application form and documents
Pay the application fee
The application process is now complete. You will receive your policy statement post the verification of your application and documents.
Required Documents to Buy Health Insurance from Tata AIG
The documents you will need to submit to buy a medical insurance plan from us include;
2-3 coloured passport size photographs
Documents relating to your medical history
Other Health Pages
Disclaimer / TnC
Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.
Frequently Asked Question
Are Alzheimer’s and Dementia the same thing?
No, Alzheimer's is the name of a specific disease, whereas dementia is a condition that denotes a deterioration of a person’s mental faculties. Alzheimer's can be a cause of Dementia. However, Dementia may not always stem from Alzheimer’s.
Is Alzheimer’s disease typical of old age?
Alzheimer’s disease is not typical of old age and should not be considered such. It is a disease that needs prompt treatment and is not an effect of age.
Can Alzheimer’s only happen to people over 65?
While Alzheimer’s generally develops in people over 65, it is possible for a person to have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease, which can affect a person as early as 30.
Does my insurance policy include cashless hospitalisation?
If you have a medical insurance plan from Tata AIG, it will include cashless hospitalisation benefits. What this means is you can go to any of our network hospitals for treatment and not need to worry about making any payments, and we will handle that from our end.