NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS IN THE ELDERLY
Every life in this immortal land has its natural course, as does our journey which starts from the first breath we take in, overcome all the obstacles and learning every new thing as time pass by. We are playful, we are young and we grow old. We live through the phases of life as we grow older.
When we cross the age of 65, it is likely that we are at risk of running into one or more of neurological disorder. Our body undergoes age related changes in nervous system neuroanatomically, neurophysiologically and neurochemically, which has it impact over the functional capacity of the human body such as :
- Cognition, including memory, language, visuospatial and executive functions
- Mood and Behavior
- Motor function
- Somatosensory function
- Auditory function
- Vision function
- Olfaction and taste functions etc.
Aging, per se, is not a disease; neuropsychological manifestations (eg, age-related cognitive decline) are considered pathologic only if they advance to dementia. The elderly are, however, more likely to succumb to certain neurologic disorders, which are
• Vascular cognitive impairment
Is a form of dementia that is believed to be caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, or cerebrovascular disease. When blood vessels lose their effectiveness, either because of age or other factors, such as high blood pressure or smoking, the brain can suffer reduction of blood flow.
The sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, caused by blockage of blood flow or rupture of an artery to the brain. Sudden loss of speech, weakness, or paralysis of one side of the body can be symptoms.
• Mild cognitive impairment
A brain disorder in which thinking abilities are mildly impaired. Individuals with mild cognitive impairment are able to function in everyday activities but have difficulty with memory — trouble remembering the names of people they met recently, remembering the flow of a conversation, and a tendency to misplace things.
• Alzheimer disease
Is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in
loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.
• Parkinson disease
Is a chronic, neurological disorder that affects nerve cells in the part of the brain that control muscle movement.
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Is a progressive degeneration of the motor neurons of the central nervous system, leading to wasting of the muscles and paralysis.
- Sleep disorders—whether insomnia, sleep apnea, or movement disorders
All can rob elderly parents of needed sleep. Disruption in sleep pattern can lead to more
problems than just making the elderly feel more fatigued.
• Cervical/lumbar spondylosis and radiculopathy.
Is usually an age-related condition that affects the joints in the neck or the back respectively. It develops as a result of the wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the cervical and lumbar spine respectively. While it is largely due to age, it can be caused by other factors as well. The condition is present in more than 90 percent of people over the age of 65.
• Taste and smell loss
Delirium is a transient, usually reversible, cause of cerebral dysfunction and manifests clinically with a wide range of neuropsychiatric abnormalities. It can occur at any age, but it occurs more commonly in patients who are elderly and have compromised mental status.
Depression is a serious medical illness. It’s more than just feeling “down in the
dumps” or “blue” for a few days. It can be mild or so major that it’s disabling
and it can also be hard to recognize.
It is a painless head discomfort with many possible causes including disturbances of vision, the brain, balance (vestibular) system of the inner ear, and gastrointestinal system.
• Gait disorders (“Senile” gait) and falls
• Chronic subdural hematoma
• Metastatic tumors of the brain
Cancer is a group of more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control, thereby invading other parts of the body year.
• Drug-induced neurologic disorders
Incontinence, or loss of bladder control, can happen for a number of reasons. Whether it’s temporary or chronic, it’s unpleasant. It also can lead to emotional distress.
As the proportion of elderly in our population increases, still progressively larger numbers of people will develop the many acute and chronic neurological disorders associated with advanced age. In addition, antecedents for neurologic disease in the elderly commonly begin in midlife or earlier, and thus primary prevention of these disorders of the elderly may entail prior interventions. By controlling risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, body mass, low physical activity, diet and diabetes to prevent diseases like stroke. Community-based promotion and access to treatment can substantially decrease the burden.
The availability of healthcare providers at every step, whether at home or a clinic has been a challenge in today’s society where most of their offspring are either living abroad or has abandoned them. In fact, with increasing technological and scientific advances, the disability and dependency should be minimal. Rapid advances in modern science and medicine have made it absolutely feasible to address any disorder or disability to the highest possible standard of care which we are aiming for.
According to the World Health Organization, stigma and discrimination against people with neurological disorders exist globally. We believe improvement in family education, home care and proper training to our health professionals, patients, and care takers will definitely have a positive impact. These measures will help end the isolation of the elderly to a great extent. We are to give priority attention and care for every individual condition.