Being diagnosed, or having a loved one diagnosed, with Alzheimer's disease can be devastating news. Understanding how the disease works and ways to slow its progression will help you cope with the effects of Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, uncurable brain disease that attacks the memory, causing dementia, and spreads throughout the brain, eventually resulting in severe brain damage. According to the National Institute of Aging, Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly.
Memory loss is typically the initial sign of Alzheimers. Memory loss can be caused by a number of factors, including stress and chronic alcoholism, but Alzheimers-related memory loss will interfere with daily activities. Repeating the same questions, becoming easily confused, and getting lost in familiar places are common during the onset of Alzheimer's. As the disease progresses, it will impair cognitive function, such as reasoning and problem-solving abilitities and speech. Over time, a person suffering from Alzheimer's will lose the ability to carry out the most basic tasks, such as speaking and controlling bowels, requiring full-time care.
The cause of Alzheimer's remains unknown, but the risk of developing the disease increases with age. Alzheimer's tends to affect those aged 60 or older and the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years over the age of 65, according to the National Institute of Aging.
As there is no concrete test for diagnosing for Alzheimer's disease, doctors make their diagnosis by examining a patient's family and medical history, and putting their patients through a series of exercises that measure memory, reasoning and problem solving ability. Brain scans may be used to rule out other health conditions.There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but medications may slow the progression of the disease. Alzheimer's is a slow growing disease; the earlier that Alzheimer's is detected and diagnosed, the sooner you or your loved one can being treatment.