Dr. Rabins discusses Alzheimer's and dementia and the symptoms of the diseases' patients. Dr. Rabins is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and co-author of "The 36-Hour Day."
Dr. Peter Rabins is a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has co-authored more than 100 articles on Alzheimer’s disease, including the bestselling book “The 36-Hour Day.”
Dr. Peter Rabins: This is a disease of old age. In fact, it’s very rare at 65, whereas about 20 percent of 80-year-olds and somewhere between 30-40 percent of 90-year-olds have dementia.
So during the first three years the primary problem that people notice in a person is that their memory is failing. In the middle three years people start to lose the ability to do everyday things like get dressed, brush their teeth, use a knife and fork.
People have trouble communicating, actually using words. And so many people gradually lose the ability to express themselves, and eventually they actually seem to lose the ability to recognize anything that’s familiar at all – objects, people, places – that’s as if the brain isn’t processing what’s coming in through the eyes.
During the last stage, the last three years, people start to fail physically. It’s not only memory or not only thinking or the ability to do numbers or checkbooks or cook, but even very basic things – the ability to feed oneself, the ability to use the toilet correctly, even the ability to walk and speak. All become affected by the disease.