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Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is it?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and makes up about 60% to 80% of dementia cases.  However, many researchers believe this number is too high and that other forms of dementia may be under diagnosed. On average, a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will live with the disease for 4-8 years depending on the person’s health and age.  The majority of cases are people aged 65 and older.

In some cases, individuals with this disease aren’t diagnosed until they have had the disease for a few years because the symptoms come on gradually and can be confused with normal aging.

A healthy brain versus a brain affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Although there are ongoing studies, Alzheimer’s Disease is believed to be caused by protein build-up in the brain. These abnormal protein particles are called tangles and plaques and as these tangles and plaques start to attach to nerve cells in the brain, they block communication between the cells and also keep the cells from getting nutrients and oxygen to survive. When a nerve cell dies, that part of the brain shrinks causing the disease to gradually worsen over time. Subsequently, this begins to affect memory, thinking, and behavior as the brain’s “file system” is progressively removed.

Symptoms include:

  • Forgetting how to use common, everyday items
  • Forgetting how to do common activities, such as cooking and driving
  • Misplacing things and not being able to problem solve to find them
  • Becoming fearful or jealous of people
  • Unable to find the right words to speak or write
  • Repeating the same question over and over
  • Poor judgment about appropriate behavior
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Mood and personality changes
We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are different stages of the disease which will progressively worsen over time, although the disease will affect each individual differently. Initially, early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease will result in mild memory loss but as it progresses towards late-stage, the disease removes functionality and the ability to make conversation or respond to what is happening around one’s environment.  

Unfortunately, medication does not slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, there are both drug and non-drug treatments which can help neurons in the brain to fire, aiding in cognitive and behavioral symptoms. 

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia related topics, visit our blog or the following websites:

Alzheimer’s Association  (24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900 and Find Your Local Chapter)

NIH –  National Institute on Aging

Mayo Clinic

Learn more about our sister company Aspen Senior Day Center, Utah Valley’s only adult day care option providing memory care activities and more!