Unbelievably, one out of ten people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease. In fact, in a recent statistic polls, almost 19 million Americans suffer one way or the other from this dreaded progressive disease. Below are some information that you will find useful about the disease.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative problem characterized by memory loss as well as loss in thinking skills. It is actually part of a constellation of memory and brain problems called dementia. It can lead to behavioral changes, loss of language skills, disorientation, confusion and increasing dependency. Most experts believe that Alzheimer's is caused by a problem in the genetic make-up and is often associated with old age.
What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
What is however difficult with this problem is the fact that the onset of the disease will often manifest in symptoms often associated with forgetfulness when getting old. What separates this problem though is the fact that people with Alzheimer's will eventually even forget normal routines and simple tasks. For instance, patients with Alzheimer's can forget how to hold a spoon and fork while others will forget how to brush their teeth and take a bath. Believe it or not, some medical experts even say that some even forget hoe to breathe, something which comes quite naturally with a person.
One problem though with this is the fact that one can actually have no way of knowing whether it is ordinary forgetfulness or Alzheimer's when it is just in the initial stages. It can start with ordinary forgetting of names and faces until it progresses to something major that can render the person totally incapacitated.
Who are affected by Alzheimer's disease? Although there are cases of Alzheimer's that affected people in their 30s, most patients are over the age of 65 and a vast majority is over the age of 85. In addition to old age, experts believe that a family history of the same problem or of dementia may predispose someone to the disease. This is because experts pinpoint a defect in the genetic make up of the person who has Alzheimer's disease.
People who are not much into mental pursuits or work that do not much involve mental strains will also most likely develop the disease compared to people who often stretch their mental muscles. In fact, one of the way to prevent the onset of dementia is to exercise the brain all the time especially during old age.
Even when one is already retired from work, old people should not forget to still use their minds by engaging in mental pursuits such as reading, answering crossword puzzles and even playing board games.
How do you diagnose Alzheimer's Disease?
As mentioned earlier, it is extremely difficult for a person to differentiate an ordinary case of forgetfulness and dementia at the beginning of the progression. Some of the symptoms of the disease such as slow mental processing and forgetfulness may be attributed to other problems such as thyroid gland problems, reactions to medications that are being taken, and even just a normal aging process.
To really ensure that the problem is indeed Alzheimer's, doctors rule out other possibilities and conduct series of tests. The only way actually to conclusively determine the presence of Alzheimer's is to examine a cross section of the brain tissue when a person is already dead.
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