Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder which gradually destroys the ability to reason, remember, imagine and learn. It’s different from the mild forgetfulness normally found in older people.
Over the course of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s no longer recognize themselves or much about the world around them. Depression, anxiety, and paranoia often accompany these symptoms. Although there is no cure, new treatments help lessen Alzheimer’s symptoms and slow it’s progression.
Alzheimer’s is marked by abnormal clumps and knots in the brain cells. For reasons not fully understood, these abnormalities tangle and take over the brain tissue and effects the area of the brain associated with intellectual function.
Over four million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s. Slightly more women than men have Alzheimer’s disease. While the disease usually affects those over 65 years of age, a rare and aggressive form of Alzheimer’s can happen in some people in their 40’s and 50’s.
Alzheimer’s disease progresses slowly, taking between three to 18 years to advance from the earliest symptoms to death; the average duration of the disease is eight years.
Death does not result from the disease itself but from some secondary illness such as pneumonia or urinary tract infection. Stages of Alzheimer’s: · At the very beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease it is marked by simple forgetfulness, especially of recent events or directions to familiar places and in some cases, personality changes. · The next stage of the disease is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision making and the use of judgement.
Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s can’t do simple daily tasks to live such as eating, bathing and using the toilet. They may also lack interest in personal hygiene and appearance and lose their sex drive.
They may have a hard time recognizing everyone except those they come in contact with on a daily basis. Communication of all kinds become increasingly difficult as written and spoken language skills digress.
Withdrawal from family members begins and the person becomes easily agitated and is in denial of the illness. · In the last stages, people with Alzheimer’s become bedridden, unable to recognize themselves and their closest friends and family members. They may make small, purposeless movements and communicate only by screaming out occasionally. Essentially, the brain forgets how to live.
Currently, doctor’s can’t diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 100% certainty until a brain autopsy is performed after the person’s death and reveals the disease’s markers (abnormal clumps and knots in the brain cells). Although, diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is largely determined by doctors experience in dealing with demented patients and symptoms, experts estimate patients with symptoms of Alzheimer’s are accurate 90% of the time.
Risk Factors The four most prominent risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include: · Increasing Age · Family history, genetics, Down syndrome · Being Female · Environmental Factors The main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. The older you grow, the greater your risks.
Studies show from age 65 – 74, about 3% of people have this disease. From age 75 – 84, the number rises to about 19%. And for those 85 and older, Alzheimer’s afflicts 47% of people. Currently, the U.S. population is aging, with people over 85 becoming the nation’s fastest growing age group.
Because this is also the group most affected by the disease, experts warn that unless researchers discover how to prevent this disease, by the year 2050, approximately 15% of those over 65 might have Alzheimer’s. The risk factor of simply being female is especially interesting to me. Studies show that compared with men, women are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Women also have a treatment option available to them that is unavailable to men which is the female sex hormone – estrogen. Several studies show that estrogen helps prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s.
Women who take estrogen have an unexpectedly low incidence of Alzheimer’s, they suffer less sever symptoms and slower mental deterioration. Estrogen improves blood flow through the brain which enhances verbal abilities and helps maintain memory of postmenopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy.
What is the main cause of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. One of the proteins involved is called amyloid, deposits of which form plaques around brain cells. The other protein is called tau, deposits of which form tangles within brain cells.
What exactly is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
What are the 4 stages of Alzheimer?
There are five stages associated with Alzheimer’s disease: preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Who is affected by Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people over the age of 65. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia increases with age, affecting an estimated 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80.
Do Alzheimer’s patients know what’s going on?
Alzheimer disease progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages of dementia, many do recognize something is wrong, but not everyone is aware. They may know they are supposed to recognize you, but they can’t.
Can Alzheimer be cured?
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But there is medicine available that can temporarily reduce the symptoms. Support is also available to help someone with the condition, and their family, cope with everyday life.
At what age does Alzheimer’s usually start?
For most people with Alzheimer’s—those who have the late-onset variety—symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a person’s 30s and mid-60s. The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person.
Can Alzheimer’s be caused by stress?
Researchers say chronic stress may be one of the factors involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. They say constant stress can affect the brain’s immune system in a way that may lead to dementia symptoms.
Where is Alzheimer’s most common?
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are most common in Western Europe (with North America close behind) and least common in Sub-Saharan Africa. African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia as whites.
Do Alzheimer’s patients sleep a lot?
Many people with Alzheimer’s disease have a tendency to sleep a lot during the day, even when they have had a full night’s sleep.
How bad does Alzheimer’s get?
Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, and eventually, this can cause severe mental and physical impairment. Your loved one’s body may begin to shut down as their mind struggles to communicate and delegate tasks effectively. At this point, your loved one’s needs will significantly increase.
Why do Alzheimer patients stop eating?
It may seem that the person is being starved or dehydrated to death, but they are not. In the end stages of dementia (in the last few months or weeks of life), the person’s food and fluid intake tends to decrease slowly over time. The body adjusts to this slowing down process and the reduced intake.
Has anyone ever recovered from Alzheimer’s?
There is currently no “cure” for dementia. In fact, because dementia is caused by different diseases it is unlikely that there will be a single cure for dementia. Research is aimed at finding cures for dementia-causing diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
How long do Alzheimer’s medications work?
Where the treatment helps someone, symptoms improve temporarily (usually for between six and 12 months). This effect then wears off a bit, so symptoms gradually get worse over the following months (even though the person is still taking the medication).
Why do Alzheimer’s patients get worse at night?
An upset in the “internal body clock,” causing a biological mix-up between day and night. Reduced lighting can increase shadows and may cause the person living with the disease to misinterpret what they see and, subsequently, become more agitated.
How long can Alzheimer’s patients live without food?
When someone is no longer taking in any fluid, and if he or she is bedridden (and so needs little fluid) then this person may live as little as a few days or as long as a couple of weeks. In the normal dying process people lose their sense of hunger or thirst.