MD - Psychiatry
Alzheimer's and dementia basics
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with alzheimer's are 65 and older. But alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.
Alzheimer's worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the united states. Those with alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
Stages of alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current alzheimer's treatments cannot stop alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
People may experience:
Cognitive: mental decline, difficulty thinking and understanding, confusion in the evening hours, delusion, disorientation, forgetfulness, making things up, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, inability to create new memories, inability to do simple maths, or inability to recognise common things
Behavioural: aggression, agitation, difficulty with self care, irritability, meaningless repetition of own words, personality changes, lack of restraint, or wandering and getting lost
Mood: anger, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, or mood swings
Psychological: depression, hallucination, or paranoia
Whole body: loss of appetite or restlessness
Also common: behavioral symptoms, inability to combine muscle movements, or jumbled speech.