Dementia is considered to be a loss of brain function that occurs with some diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific form of dementia that gradually worsens over time. It affects memory, behavior, and thoughts. Alzheimer’s disease is also the most common form of dementia. The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown.
Symptoms and Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease Include:
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Delusions, agitations, depression
- Difficulty in doing basic tasks
- Difficulty in writing or reading
- Forgetting things like current events or details or life history
- Not recognizing family members
- Poor judgment
Mental Functions Affected by Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease Include:
- Personality or emotional behavior
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
You Are Likely to Develop Alzheimer’s Disease If:
- You are a senior citizen.
- You have a close relative who developed Alzheimer’s disease.
- You have a certain genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease.
- You are a female your risk could be greater.
- You have suffered from high blood pressure for a long time.
- You have a history of head trauma.
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
Steps Taken When Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease Include:
- A complete physical exam (which includes a neurological exam).
- Asking questions about medical history and symptoms.
- Performing a mental status examination.
Tests To Rule Out Causes Other Than Dementia Include:
- Tumors of the brain
- Chronic infections
- Medicine intoxication
- Vitamin deficiency
- Thyroid diseases
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is Divided into Four Different Stages:
- Pre-dementia, which is associated with problems in executive functions, including attentiveness, flexibility, and abstract thinking.
- Early-onset, which is marked by increasing impairment of mental function and capacity and is the stage that leads to definitive diagnoses.
- Moderate, which is marked by progressive mental deterioration and eventually hinders independence.
- Advanced, which is the stage when the afflicted is completely dependent upon caregivers.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatment goals generally include slowing the progression of the disease and symptom management. Changing the home environment can help the afflicted perform daily activities and can help to offset some of the symptoms of the disease. There are also medicines available for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, including Donepezil.
Complications Experienced by People Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease Include:
- Abuse by caregivers.
- Loss of muscle function.
- Immobility related complications.
- Falls resulting in broken bones.
Steps That May Aid in Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease Include:
- Having a low-fat diet.
- Eating cold-water fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Reduction of foods that contain linoleic acid.
- Increasing antioxidants.
- Healthy blood pressure.
- Staying mentally/socially active.
- Possibly taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory medicine.
Prognosis for Someone Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease
How quickly Alzheimer’s disease progresses varies from person to person. If the disease develops quickly, it is more likely to worsen at a faster rate. Sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease usually die at a younger age than that of the general population, though the number of months or years a person the disease lives following diagnosis varies greatly. Most live anywhere from 3 to 20 years after being diagnosed with the disease.
The final phases of this disease could last anywhere from several months to a few years. During that period the afflicted will become fully immobilized and eventually die from organ failure or infection.
If you are suffering from any of these problems contact your health care provider immediately.