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Alzheimer's Disease: More than memory loss

Alzheimer's Disease: More than memory loss
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Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia is not a specific disease, more so, a collective term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline.

In the U.S. alone, millions of dementia cases are diagnosed every year. Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of the neurodegenerative dementias. Alzheimer’s is defined as an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that causes mental deterioration due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility. The main symptoms associated with the disease are memory loss and confusion.

Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures

More than 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. In 30 years, that number is expected to triple. Nearly every single minute, someone develops the disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Studies show it kills more people than breast and prostate cancer – combined. No cure exists; however, treatments and medications may temporarily improve symptoms.

Is Alzheimer’s Disease preventable?

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. There are confirmed and modifiable risk factors that contribute to developing the disease.

The greatest known risk factors are age and genetics. It’s the lifestyle changes that experts say may prevent one third of dementia cases. Some of those risk factors include preventing or treating hearing loss, low education level, smoking, depression, social isolation, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Studies show improving standards in your everyday life in the above categories, could help prevent the onsets of dementia.

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single test that can be done to determine if a patient has Alzheimer’s. To diagnose the disease, doctors may start out by asking the person or close family and friends questions about overall health, diet, prescription medications and medical history.

From there, health experts will conduct a number of tests on memory, problem solving, attention, counting and language.

Other medical tests may be conducted to rule out any other issues, such as blood and urine tests.

A standard medical workup for Alzheimer’s Disease includes an MRI and CT scan of the brain. The structural imaging can reveal tumors, damage from severe head trauma or buildup of fluid in the brain. These conditions often cause similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s but require different treatment.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Just as each person is unique, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and its progression may vary. Typically, the disease develops in three stages:

  • Mild (Early Stage)

-Memory loss

-Difficulty with problem-solving

-Changes in personality

-Trouble organizing/expressing thoughts

  • Moderate (Middle Stage)

-Greater memory loss

-Significant changes in personality and behavior

-Escalating confusion

-Increasing need for help with simple, daily tasks

  • Severe (Late Stage)

-Require daily assistance with personal care

-Loses the ability to communicate clearly

-Experience changes in physical abilities, including the ability to walk, sit and eventually swallow.

On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives between four to eight years after being diagnosed.

Top 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

There are typically 10 warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementia diseases. If you notice any of them with yourself or a loved one, don’t ignore them – contact your doctor.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenge in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing ability the retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease or to become an advocate, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at

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