The steps to arrive at a diagnosis of a degenerative disease can be numerous and complex. It is often a first symptom that indicates that something needs to be better investigated in the patient. According to psychologist Sirlene Ferreira, there are many factors that contribute to an accurate diagnosis.
“[As doenças degenerativas] they are related to genetic aspects, environmental factors, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle,” she explains. “That’s why we, health professionals, insist so much on making the population aware of a quality of life that includes a routine with physical activities and good nutrition. “
Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy are examples of conditions that aggravate the patient’s condition over time and are irreversible, with no cure so far. Despite this, there are possible treatments, with the aim of making life easier after discovering the disease.
Care changes according to the diagnosis and the intensity of cellular metabolic functions that were lost, says neurologist and muscle pathologist Beny Schmidt, a professor at Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo).
The doctor recommends his patients to follow up with specialists in human rehabilitation, to try to recover the functions of the various organs that may be affected.
Professional follow-up is of great importance, as degenerative patients can start to act unexpectedly.
“There is something called anosognosia, which is the patient’s lack of awareness in the midst of difficulties”, says Daniela Coelho, a neuropsychologist and specialist in neurology and neurosurgery. “This condition can put you in risky situations, such as leaving home and not finding your way back, for example. Therefore, it is very important to have professional guidance and to monitor the evolution of the situation.”
Prevention and routine
In 50% of Alzheimer’s cases, the disease would have been stopped by healthier lifestyle habits, warns the neuropsychologist.
According to her, an analysis of more than 44,000 scientific articles characterized, in 2020, ten modifiable factors for degenerative diagnoses, including: BMI (body mass index), diabetes, low education, hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, trauma cranioencephalic, low cognitive activity, stress and depression. With a lower level of evidence, the following were also listed: obesity in middle-age, weight loss in old age, lack of physical activity, smoking, sleep disorders, diseases cerebrovascular and arterial fibrillation.
Coelho reinforces the need for emotional and behavioral monitoring in the treatment, which can be expanded with multidisciplinary care, involving a physical educator, nutritionist, geriatrician, neurologist, music therapist and psychotherapist.
She suggests some tasks that help with the routine between patients and caregivers:
– keep the environment organized, with fixed places for the most used objects
– keep the routine with a fixed time
– using a clock, calendar, agenda and weekly planner helps to encourage patient autonomy
reading and games
Practices such as reading books and watching movies and series are indicated for daily post-diagnosis because they can stimulate memory. Games are an incentive to socialize and should be considered.
Psychologist Sirlene Ferreira also recommends music as a therapeutic path.
“Music, for example, brings us warmth and calm. It’s interesting to create a nice playlist for the patient to enjoy that moment,” she says.
“Contact with nature and animals is also important, as well as visits from family and friends,” she points out. “Small gestures of affection make a big difference in the quality of life for all of us, especially patients. So, whenever possible, show affection.”
To help with ideas for objects that can be used in the treatment, we have prepared a list of products.
See the selection:
Wooden permanent calendar – Decoration
Price: BRL 39.90*
The permanent calendar is an interesting option because it can be used for several years, as the pieces are loose, cube-shaped, with the numbers indicated on each side. They are adjustable to each other, showing the date in days and months, with the possibility of making different combinations, which can help stimulate the brain during treatment.
Weekly Post-it Planner – 3M
Price: BRL 15.16*
As suggested by psychologists, the weekly calendar is an interesting ally for those who want – or need – to schedule the week’s activities and control the maintenance of a healthy routine. This 3M model is printed on coated paper, comes with adhesive tape and two colored Post-it notes.
Go2 Portable Multimedia Box – JBL
Price: from R$177.46 for R$164.90*
JBL’s simplest and most compact model works via bluetooth and connects with other devices with this technology: smartphones and computers, for example. According to the manufacturer, it can be used for up to five hours without recharging the battery. It’s waterproof, comes with cable and USB port for charging the battery in the socket, has an audio cable port. Can be used with voice assistant.
Smile Memory Game – Parents & Children
Price: BRL 16.90*
The memory game is one of the most suitable options for stimulating the brain. Psychologists and neurologists claim that it is indicated for putting cognitive functions into practice. This model features different types of emojis, is cardboard and printed in great quality. Ideal to be played with a family or a group.
Analog Clock – Casio
Price: R$ 144.90*
Casio’s Standard line model can help stimulate the brain. Hands marking the hours and minutes help quick, logical thinking. It is waterproof and can be submerged to a depth of up to 50 meters, according to the manufacturer. Comes with warranty certificate.
Eating to beat diseases – Editora Fontanar
Price: BRL 44.89*
The book presents studies by physician William Li on the benefits of certain foods in preventing or reducing risks in conditions such as dementia and cancer. The purpose of the publication is to serve as a guide to the foods that should be consumed to protect and improve health.
Alzheimer’s is not the end – Editora Fontanar
Price: BRL 31.61*
In the book “Alzheimer Não é o Fim”, Fernando Aguzzoli expands, in detail, some strategies so that relatives and caregivers of people diagnosed with the disease can share this challenge from the perspective in which the patient’s dignity is preserved, finding comfort in your own emotions.
A tip: do you usually shop online? Subscribing to Amazon Prime can be a good alternative. With the first month of free trial and then for only R$9.90, you have free and fast delivery for several purchases anywhere in Brazil.
*Prices and list were checked on August 24, 2021 to update this article. They may vary over time.
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