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What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

what is alzheimers disease

We would like to take a moment to discuss Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care disorders are an important topic that affects many families, and we want to make sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions about care.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain and results in memory loss. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases.

They named the disease after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. He noted changes in the brain tissue of a patient who had died of an unusual mental illness. These changes included the buildup of abnormal clumps, which are now called amyloid plaques, and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles).

There are many other causes of dementia, including Lewy body disease, frontotemporal dementia, and Huntington’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, affecting about 5.8 million Americans.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, patients may experience mild memory loss and confusion. As the disease progresses, they may have difficulty speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. They may also experience changes in mood and behavior, such as depression, anxiety, or aggression.

In the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, patients may lose the ability to walk, dress, or take care of their hygiene. They may also become incontinent.

How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, as the symptoms can be similar to other conditions, such as dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and Huntington’s disease. No one test can definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, doctors will use a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and brain imaging to diagnose.

What Are the Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s Disease?

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but several risk factors have been identified. These include age, family history, genetics, and lifestyle choices.

Age is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Most people with the disease are 65 years or older.

Family history and genetics also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. We know if you have a parent or grandparent with the disease, your risk is increased. If you have specific genes, such as APOE4, your risk grows.

Lifestyle choices, such as smoking and not exercising, can also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. We advise patients to live a healthy lifestyle to decrease their risk.

What are the Treatment Options for Alzheimer’s Disease?

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and there is no effective medical treatment to stop its progression. However, there are treatments available that can help patients manage their symptoms. These include:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: These medications can help improve memory and thinking in some patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Memantine: This medication can help reduce the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Antipsychotic medications: These medications can help manage behavioral symptoms, such as delusions, aggression, and hallucinations.

There are also many non-pharmacological treatments that can help patients manage their symptoms, such as:

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy assists patients with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and grooming. It can work to improve patients’ quality of life.

Physical therapy

Memory loss patients with mobility and balance problems can benefit from PT. It’s not uncommon for patients with Alzheimer’s disease to fall, so PT can help reduce the risk of injury.

Speech therapy

This can help patients with communication and swallowing. These are common problems in Alzheimer’s disease.

Psychological counseling

There are many aspects to memory care disorders that cognitive therapies can help address, such as depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

These are just some options available to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s essential to talk to your doctor about what is best for you or your loved one.

How Can Family Members Help Loved Ones With Memory Loss?

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, there are many ways you can help. Here are some tips:

Be patient:

Dementia can cause patients to act out in confusing or frustrating ways. It’s essential to be patient and understand that the disease is causing these behaviors.

Encourage exercise:

Exercise can help improve symptoms in some patients with dementia. It’s vital to encourage your loved one to get up and move as much as possible.

Stimulate the mind:

Activities that stimulate the mind include reading, listening to music, or doing puzzles.

Create a routine:

Routines can help patients with dementia feel more comfortable and less confused. Try to stick to regular meals, activities, and sleep schedules.

Be supportive:

The journey with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for both the patient and the caregivers. It’s critical to be supportive and understanding.

Also, as a caregiver, it’s vital to take care of yourself. Be sure to schedule breaks and get help when you need it.

These are ways to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. You can contact the Alzheimer’s Association or other support groups for more tips. Our office can help you get in touch with these resources.

The Benefits of Memory Care Facilities

One option available to patients with Alzheimer’s disease is memory care. Memory care facilities are specially designed to meet the needs of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. They provide a safe and secure environment and 24-hour supervision and help with activities of daily living.

Memory care facilities also offer a variety of therapeutic activities, such as music therapy, art therapy, and pet therapy. These activities can help patients with Alzheimer’s disease improve their mood and quality of life.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact us at our Hendersonville or Sylva locations.

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