What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broad term for conditions caused by brain injuries or illnesses that negatively affect memory, thinking and behavior. These changes interfere with daily life.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease are diagnosed after the age of 65. If diagnosed earlier, it is commonly known as early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease.
Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
Although many people have heard of Alzheimer’s disease, some are not sure what it really is. There are some facts about the Alzheimer’s disease:
- Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic disease.
- Symptoms appear slowly and the effects on the brain are degraded, which means that they cause a slow deterioration.
- There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but this treatment can help reduce the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.
- Anyone can get Alzheimer’s disease, but some people are at higher risk of developing it. This includes people over the age of 65 and people with a family history of the condition.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the same. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.
- No expected results for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Some people live longer with mild cognitive impairment, while others experience rapid onset of symptoms and rapid progression of the disease.
Everyone’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease is different.
Dementia Vs. Alzheimer’s Disease
The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, these two conditions are not the same. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia.
Dementia is a broad term for memory loss-like symptoms such as forgetfulness and confusion. Dementia includes more specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and others that can cause these symptoms.
The causes, symptoms and treatment for these diseases can vary from person to person.
Alzheimer’s Disease Causes And Risk Factors
Experts have not identified a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but they have identified some risk factors, including:
- Age: Most people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 or older.
- Family History: If you have a family member who has developed this condition, they are more likely to contract it.
- Genetics: Some genes are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. It only increases your risk level.
Alzheimer’s Disease And Genetics
Although there is no known cause for Alzheimer’s disease, genetics may play a role. One gene in particular is of interest to researchers. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a gene that is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms in older adults.
Blood tests can determine if you have this gene, which increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Remember that even if someone has this gene, they cannot get Alzheimer’s disease.
The opposite is also true: anyone can get Alzheimer’s even if they don’t have the gene. There is no way to know if someone will develop Alzheimer’s. Other genes can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and early onset Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms Or Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
We all face forgetfulness from time to time. But people with Alzheimer’s disease show certain behaviors and symptoms that get worse over time. These may include:
- Lack of memory that affects day-to-day activities, such as the ability to make appointments.
- Difficulty with household chores, such as using the microwave.
- Difficulty solving problems.
- Difficulty speaking or writing.
- Be frustrated about times or places.
- A visionary decision.
- Lack of personal hygiene.
- Mood and personality change.
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community.
Symptoms vary depending on the stage of the disease.
Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms gradually get worse over time. Alzheimer’s is divided into seven stages.
- Stage 1: There are no symptoms at this stage, but an initial diagnosis may be based on family history.
- Stage 2: The first sign appears, such as forgetfulness.
- Step 3: Mild physical and mental disorders appear, such as decreased memory and concentration. It can only be seen close to a person.
- Stage 4: Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it is still considered mild. Memory loss and inability to perform daily tasks are obvious.
- Step 5: From moderate to severe symptoms, loved ones need the help of loved ones or caregivers.
- Stage 6: At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks such as eating and dressing.
- Stage 7: This is the most serious and final stage of Alzheimer’s. Speech and facial expressions may be reduced.
As someone progresses through these stages, they will need more help from a caregiver.
Early Onset Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease usually affects people 65 years of age or older. However, people may be in their 40s or 50s. This is called early onset or early Alzheimer’s. This type of Alzheimer’s affects about 5% of all people with the disease.
Early onset Alzheimer’s symptoms may include mild memory loss and difficulty concentrating or completing daily tasks. Finding the right words can be difficult and you can waste your time. Mild vision problems can also occur, such as difficulty in distinguishing distances.
Some people have a higher risk of developing this condition.
Diagnosis Of Alzheimer’s Disease
The only definitive way to diagnose a person with Alzheimer’s disease is to examine the brain tissue after death. But your doctor may use other tests and tests to assess your mental abilities, diagnose dementia and rule out other conditions.
They may begin with a medical history. They can ask you about you:
- Family medical history
- Other current or past health conditions
- Current or past medicine
- Diet, alcohol, or other lifestyle habits
From there, your doctor will likely run various tests to determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is possible for your doctor to determine your diagnosis. Take several tests. These can be mental, physical, neurological and imaging tests.
Your doctor may begin by examining your mental state. This can help you gauge your short-term memory, long-term memory, and time and location awareness. For example, they might ask you:
- What day is it
- Who is the president
- Memorize and memorize a short list of words
Next, you will have a physical exam. For example, they can monitor your blood pressure, measure your heart rate, and take your temperature. In some cases, they may collect urine or blood samples for analysis in a laboratory.
Your doctor may also perform a neurological examination to rule out a possible diagnosis, such as a serious medical problem, such as an infection or stroke. During this test, your anxiety, muscle tone and speech will be checked.
Your doctor may also order brain imaging studies. These studies, which will image your brain, may include:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRIs can help detect important markers, such as inflammation, bleeding, and structural problems.
- Computed Tomography (CT): CT scans take X-ray images that can help your doctor find abnormal features in the brain.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET): PET pictures can help your doctor detect plaque buildup. Plaque is a protein substance associated with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other tests your doctor may do include blood tests to look for genes that may indicate an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Medications For Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, your doctor may recommend medications and other treatments to help relieve your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease as much as possible.
Initially Alzheimer’s disease, Your doctor may prescribe medications such as Donepezil (Aricept) or rivastigmine (Exelon). These medications can help keep acetylcholine levels in your brain high. It is a type of neurotransmitter that helps improve memory.
For moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, your doctor may prescribe Donepezil (Aricept) or Memantine. Memantine can help prevent the effects of excess glutamate. Glutamate is a brain chemical that is released in large quantities in Alzheimer’s disease and damages brain cells.
Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants, antidepressants, or anticoagulants to help treat Alzheimer’s symptoms. These symptoms include:
Other Treatments For Alzheimer’s Disease
In addition to medication, lifestyle changes can help you manage your condition. For example, your doctor may develop strategies to help you or your loved one:
- Focus on tasks
- Limited to confusion
- Avoid collisions
- Get plenty of rest every day
- Complete silence
Some people believe that vitamin E can help prevent mental retardation, but studies show that more research is needed. Consult your doctor before taking vitamin E or any other supplement. It can interfere with medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are many alternative options you can ask your doctor about.
Just as there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, no foolproof prevention measures can be taken. However, researchers are generally focusing on healthy lifestyles as a way to prevent cognitive decline.
The following steps can help.
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly.
- Try cognitive training exercises.
- Follow a plant-based diet.
- Get more antioxidants.
- Maintain an active social life.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
Alzheimer’s Disease Care
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may want to consider a caregiver. It’s a full-time job that’s not usually easy, but it can be very rewarding. A lot of skills are required as a caregiver. Of these, perhaps the most patient, as well as the most creative, endurance, and ability to see the happiness in which you help someone can lead the most comfortable life.
As a caregiver, it is important that you take care of yourself and your loved one. Positional responsibilities can lead to an increased risk of stress, malnutrition, and lack of exercise. If you choose to take on the role of caregiver, you may need the help of professional and family caregivers to help you. Learn more about what is needed to care for Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics
The statistics on Alzheimer’s disease are staggering.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in adults in the United States, the fifth leading cause of death in people aged 65 and over.
- In 2010, 4.7 million Americans over the age of 65 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study. The researchers estimate that by 2050, there will be 13.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s.
- The CDC estimates that more than 90% of people with Alzheimer’s do not see a reliable source until they are over 60 years old.
Alzheimer’s is an expensive disease. According to the CDC, approximately 9 259 billion was spent on Alzheimer’s and dementia care in the United States in 2017.