The biopsychosocial approach – By Elmahdi Darbi
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a chronic illness that mostly affects the elderly population. This report discusses the biological, epidemiological, psychological and sociological aspects of the illness. Epidemiologically, the prevalence of AD is higher in areas where elderly population is more dominant. However, data on the incidence of AD is limited and requires further investigations. In terms of the aetiology of the disease, there are no confirmed causative agents to the disease, however, the literature suggests many risk factors, such as the presence of apolipoprotein E4 (APO-E4) allele which is believed to be the major risk factor. Although the pathophysiology of AD is also not fully understood, the two main suggested theories are the formation of senile plaque and neurofibrillary tangles which cause neurons death. AD signs and symptoms include loss of memory and language deterioration, which could be explained by the pathophysiology theories. Neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, anger, and denial are very common in chronic diseases. In AD, apathy, depression and anxiety are the most prominent comorbidities that significantly impact the patients’ quality of life. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is the most used psychological intervention to improve AD patients’ quality of life. Sociologically, the socioeconomic status of individuals such as poverty and low educational levels have an association with the increase in the risk of developing AD. In addition, being diagnosed with AD significantly disrupt individuals lives. In conclusion, the biopsychosocial approach to clinical illness is an important concept for health practitioners to perceive, in order to improve patients’ health.