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Alzheimer’s Disease


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Things (Not) to Forget

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioural abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.

Did you know?

Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behaviour.

Symptoms

As we grow older, our brains change, and we may have occasional problems remembering certain details. However, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias cause memory loss and other symptoms serious enough to interfere with life on a day-to-day basis. These symptoms are not a natural part of getting older.

The first symptoms of Alzheimer's vary from person to person. For many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Here are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  • Trouble completing tasks that were once easy.
  • Difficulty solving problems.
  • Changes in mood or personality; withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Problems with communication, either written or spoken.
  • Confusion about places, people and events.
  • Visual changes, such as trouble understanding images.

 

Diagnosis

There is not a simple test to tell if someone has Alzheimer’s. Diagnosis requires a comprehensive medical evaluation, which may include:

  • Your family’s medical history
  • A neurological exam
  • Cognitive tests to evaluate memory and thinking
  • Blood tests (to rule out other possible causes of symptoms)
  • Brain imaging

 

Treatment

While there are currently no treatments available to slow or stop the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, several medications can temporarily help improve the symptoms of dementia for some people. These medications work by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dealing with Alzheimer’s is as difficult for the caretakers as it is for the person suffering. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can have high physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care, changes in family roles, and decisions about placement in a care facility can be difficult. Don’t hesitate to talk to people, there are a lot of support groups which allow you to express concerns, share experiences, get tips and receive emotional comfort.