Dementia and Alzheimer's

Dementia and Alzheimer's: More than 2000 people with dementia in the district of Euskirchen The neurological department of the Marien Hospital and the Alzheimer's Association in the district of Euskirchen took the “World Salt Day” as an occasion to organize an information event about dementia and its most common form of Alzheimer's. More than 70 participants found out about the various dementias, symptoms and possible therapeutic approaches on the premises of the hospital.

Experts estimate that around 1.3 million people in Germany suffer from dementia, over 1.1 million of them suffering from Alzheimer's. Dementia is becoming a widespread disease in Germany, not least because of demographic change. For this reason, the Alzheimer Society and the Marien-Hospital would also like to give citizens in the district of Euskirchen more interest in the subject and also use their event to provide those affected with some tips and support for dealing with an illness.

Lectures from specialists
The relatively high number of visitors to the lecture event shows that the topic is becoming increasingly important among the population. Dr. Hartmut Bauer, chief physician of neurology at the Marien Hospital and at the same time chairman of the district Alzheimer Society and Professor Dr. Jörg Schulz, Director of Neurology at the University Hospital Aachen, led through the evening and informed the audience about the history of Alzheimer's as well as about the course and possible treatment approaches.

The history of Alzheimer's
Dr. Hartmut Bauer explained that the disease was named after its discoverer Alois Alzheimer, who first examined and described the history of a patient in 1901. A desperate husband had his 50-year-old wife, Auguste Deter, sent to the "City Center for Insane and Epileptic" in Frankfurt. The husband described the symptoms as: she had become increasingly suspicious, walked around the apartment uneasily, rang the doorbell of neighbors and made confused statements, hid objects and felt persecuted. Until her death in 1906, Auguste D. was cared for in the Frankfurt mental hospital, where Alois Alzheimer examined her while she was still alive and performed a dissection of the brain after her death. He found that protein deposits, the so-called "plaques" in the brain of Auguste D., were responsible for the occurrence of the disease. After the first publication, however, his scientific results were initially forgotten until they returned to the focus of science in the 1960s, explained Dr. Bauer continues to listen.

Facts and figures on the spread of dementia
In addition to the general information on the history, the participants of the event learned from Dr. Bauer also said that over a million people in Germany were already demented in 2002, and experts, even with optimistic estimates, assume that there will be at least 1.7 million in 2030. In 2008, around 2000 dementia patients were treated in the district of Euskirchen, Dr. Bauer continues, although the number of diseases in the district will double by 2030. According to Dr. Bauer's information currently 579 fully inpatient care places with a focus on dementia will therefore probably not be sufficient in the long term for the district of Euskirchen.

Follow-up costs of Alzheimer's and dementia
As part of his lecture, Dr. Bauer also talk about the social costs of the disease. According to his words, an Alzheimer patient in Germany causes illness-related costs of around 44,000 euros annually. Taking into account the fact that around two thirds of those affected are cared for by relatives at home, which has spared cost accounting so far, the need for financing should increase enormously if the nursing places are adequately expanded.

Symptoms, diagnosis and therapy of Alzheimer's and dementia

Following the lecture by Dr. Bauer explained the latest research findings to Prof. Jörg Schulz from the University Hospital Aachen and gave tips on how the audience can age healthily. He also explained the symptoms, such as lack of orientation in terms of time and space, the loss of previous knowledge or skills, and the helplessness of the patients. Schulz also emphasized the importance of an early diagnosis and what options are available to determine whether there is dementia. The specialist also explained that Alzheimer's disease has not yet been curable. There are therapies with which time can be gained in the patient's interest, in which the patient can stay fit for longer, but a cure or improvement of the state of mind has not yet been achieved. In his detailed descriptions of the therapy methods, Dr. Schulz explicitly refers to the two “drug classes” that are currently available and that are used depending on the severity of the disease, either in the mild to moderate form of dementia or in the case of serious illnesses. Dr. said about future therapy options Schulz: "Research is currently working on new approaches aimed at curbing or maybe even stopping this disease progression."

Open discussion

Following the lectures by the specialist Dr. Hartmut Bauer and Professor Dr. Jörg Schulz, the audience could turn to the experts with their special questions and problems and discuss them intensively with them. (fp, 10/02/2010)

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