The Roundup -

By Tie Shank 

Alzheimer's – Not Just A Disease Of Old Age

 


Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that worsens over time, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. 

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. A worldwide effort is under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s (per the Alzheimer’s Association and alz.org). Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life

Challenges in planning or solving problems

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

Confusion with time or place

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

New problems with words in speaking or writing

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

Decreased or poor judgment

Withdrawal from work or social activities

Changes in mood and personality

 

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