What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The most common type of dementia.
A progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
Involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
Can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.

The symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60 and the risk increases with age.
Younger people may get Alzheimer’s disease, but it is less common.
The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
What is known about Alzheimer’s Disease?
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently.

Family history—researchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists are finding more evidence that some of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’sA man and a woman standing. The middle-aged man is in the foreground, looking into camera. The woman is standing behind him with her hands on his shoulder, smiling and also looking into the camera.

There is growing evidence that physical, mental, and social activities may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:

Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
Trouble handling money and paying bills.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
Decreased or poor judgment.
Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
Changes in mood, personality, or behavioral.

Some causes for symptoms, such as depression and drug interactions, are reversible. However, they can be serious and should be identified and treated by a health care provider as soon as possible.
Early and accurate diagnosis provides opportunities for you and your family to consider or review financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
A middle-aged man and woman sitting. Both are smiling into the camera. The woman is leaning onto the man with her head on his shoulder.
Medical management can improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.

Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease at home can be a difficult task and might become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimer’s disease often need more intensive care.

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