What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
- The most common type of dementia.
- A progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
- Involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
- Can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.
Although scientists are learning more every day, right now, they still do not know what causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Who has Alzheimer’s Disease?
- In 2014, as many as 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- The symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60 and the risk increases with age.
- Younger people may get Alzheimer’s disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.
What is known about Alzheimer’s Disease?
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently.
- Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Family history—researchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Scientists are finding more evidence that some of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- There is growing evidence that physical, mental, and social activities may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
How do I know if it’s Alzheimer’s disease?
People with one or more of these 10 warning signs should see a doctor to find the cause. Early diagnosis gives them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, repeating yourself or relying on more aids to help you remember (like sticky notes or reminders).
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems: having trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure: having problems with cooking, driving places, using a cell phone, or shopping.
4. Confusion with time or place: having trouble understanding an event that is happening later, or losing track of dates.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations:having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing: having trouble following or joining a conversation or struggling to find a word you are looking for (saying “that thing on your wrist that tells time” instead of “watch”).
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps: placing car keys in the washer or dryer or not being able to retrace steps to find something.
8. Decreased or poor judgment: being a victim of a scam, not managing money well, paying less attention to hygiene, or having trouble taking care of a pet.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities: not wanting to go to church or other activities as you usually do, not being able to follow football games or keep up with what’s happening.
10. Changes in mood and personality: getting easily upset in common situations or being fearful or suspicious.