Named cerebral arteriosclerosis forty years ago, then Alzheimer, and known today as cognitive decay, in reality decay in old age can take many different forms for age of onset, symptoms, and speed of evolution, since it is a pathology caused by different and sometimes concurrent factors.
It may manifest as a difficulty to find constantly misplaced objects (glasses, keys, handbags, etc.), or to remember familiar routes, faces, names, days of the week, family relationships, seasons, etc.
Memory decay can be less severe and limited to a benign absent-mindedness, more evident in the late afternoon-evening, which can anyway be lessened by tricks to aid memorization, encouraging greater attention, for instance in writing (posting notes, blackboards).
In other cases, instead, an initial attentive memory deficit is inexorably followed by the decay of ‘working’ memory, of time and spatial memory in a progressive, slowable but irreversible process of cognitive decay. This state, which can be further complicated and aggravated by a depressive mood, should invite those charged with assisting the patient not to criticize but to understand and support him. Acting as a prosthesis for the patient’s lost mental functions requires empathy, perseverance, adaptability and respect.
The use of medicines (mood stabilizers, tranquillizers, anxiolytic, etc. as well as the new acetylcholine receptor agonists to contrast memory loss, and sometimes antidepressants), in balance with other concomitant clinical needs (cardio-circulatory, anti-diabetic, hypotensive) can, with frequent adjustments in relation to the speed of a patient’s decadence, allow us to contrasts the patient’s suffering, as he is plagued by false convictions, panic attacks, hallucinations, excitement, anger, humiliation, disorientation