The aging population presents a growing challenge for health care. With the number of older people increasing, there is an increase in the prevalence of many neurological disorders. People over 60 have an increased risk of developing neurological abnormalities as they age compared to their younger counterparts. These occurrences are often caused by genetic factors, lifestyle choices, and other unknown factors contributing to brain aging.
To ensure your elders live a long, healthy life, reach out to Ali H. Mesiwala, MD, FAANS, for a proper neurological examination and diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent neurological symptoms from worsening in the long run. This article discusses some of the common neurological disorders affecting older adults.
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a common progressive and degenerative brain condition that affects most older adults, particularly those above 65 years. People with Alzheimer’s experience changes in their memory, thinking skills, and behavior. As the disease progresses, it can affect all areas of life, including relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers, work performance, and personal hygiene.
While there are no cures for Alzheimer’s available today, there are ways to help prevent it from developing or worsening. If you are already experiencing some early signs of memory loss or difficulty speaking, visit a neurologist immediately.
2. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. It is caused by cell damage in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. This crucial part of the brain produces a dopamine chemical, which helps control muscle movement and emotions like fear, anger, and sadness.
As these cells deteriorate over time, you may experience tremors, rigidity, or stiffness and difficulty walking due to a lack of coordination between your legs and arms.
3. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. It causes brain and spinal cord inflammation, leading to numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, fatigue, and vision problems. It also causes bladder incontinence, often leading to bedwetting among older adults.
MS is not curable but treatable with medication or light therapy that helps reduce inflammation in your body. You can also reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis by maintaining a healthy diet and weight and staying active as you age.
4. Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes involuntary movements and psychiatric symptoms. It affects the brain’s nerve cells, responsible for sending messages to and from the body.
Symptoms may appear suddenly or over time and often begin between 30 and 50 years of age. It then progresses rapidly, severely affecting your brain functionality without proper management. Your neurologist might recommend a genetic test to diagnose this disease but not prevent it from developing. However, various treatments, such as physiotherapy, medications, and talk therapy, can help manage your symptoms.
5. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that mostly affects people aged 40 to 70. It causes damage to the brain nerve cells and also affects the spinal cord muscles. Symptoms often begin with muscle weakness and twitching in the hands, arms, or legs. With time, it progresses and causes severe movement disorders.
ALS can be fatal because it often leads to respiratory failure among older adults. While this neurological disease has no cure, you can slow its progression through medications such as riluzole, baclofen, or diazepam.
The elderly are more susceptible to certain neurological disorders than younger people. Research has shown that many of these disorders are preventable through maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet.
Knowing the various neurological disorders and their symptoms can help you get the right treatment on time. If you or an elderly around you is showing signs of neurological issues, visit a neurologist regularly to prevent the condition from worsening.