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Alzheimer's Disease

What Is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects the brain. It damages the brain cells responsible for intellectual functioning in the brain, including memory, intelligence, judgment, and speech. Alzheimers leads to the loss of mental and physical functions.

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia in older people. It affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. A small percentage Alzheimer's patients are under 50 years of age. However, most are over 65 years of age. A rare and aggressive form of Alzheimer's can happen in some people in their 40s and 50s.

Over the course of years, as the disease progresses, individuals loose their ability to perform the basic tasks that are part of everyday life and usually end up requiring constant care and supervision.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's

The first noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer's are: loss of memory, trouble performing tasks, poor judgment, misplacing things, inability to think and understand and gradual changes in behavior.

Memory loss - Memory loss is usually the first noticeable sign of Alzheimer's. Memory loss starts slowly, but soon the episodes become more and more frequent. People with Alzheimer's forget things very often. They have trouble remembering answers to questions they may have asked a short time earlier. This causes the person to ask the same question repeatedly.

Trouble performing familiar tasks - As the disease progresses, patients have trouble performing tasks that they have done for a lifetime. Simple, little everyday tasks that we perform without even thinking about may become major obstacles for the Alzheimer's victim.

Poor judgment - Judgment becomes a problem as the disease develops. An example of poor judgment is: The patient may wear clothing that is not suitable for the weather.

Misplacing things - Alzheimer's patients may misplace things often. When the items are found, they are usually in inappropriate places. For instance, food may be put in the clothes closet instead of the refrigerator.

Disorientation - People suffering from Alzheimer's disease may be unable to tell you where they are, who they are or what they happen to be doing at that moment. They might even forget where live.

What causes Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's is caused by a loss of brain cells, as well as changes in the cerebral cortex (the outer layer of the brain). An accumulation of tangled fibers and/or plaques forms around the nerves in the cerebral cortex. It is unknown why the tangled fibers and plaques develop in the brain.

Research shows that there may be different genetic and nongenetic causes. Some genes cause the disease to appear early in life, while other genes predispose a person to the disease but require a trigger such as stroke, head trauma, or clogged arteries.

Cure for Alzheimer's

Unfortunately there is no cure for Alzheimer's. Promising research continues to provide hope to reduce the risk of developing alzheimers.

Preparing for Advanced Stages Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's in the News

November is alzheimers awareness month in the United States.

People with low levels of vitamin B12 may be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.

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Alzheimer's Statistics

  • The average course of the disease from the time it is diagnosed to death is about 6 to 8 years.
  • About 4 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimers.
  • Alzheimers affects 5% of people over 65 and 20% of people over 80.

Alzheimer's Support Groups

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