Tuesday Tips for Caregivers – The Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s (AHLZ-high-merz) is a disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is not a normal part of aging.
The changes that take place in the brain begin at the microscopic level long before the first signs of memory loss. The brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s have an abundance of plaques and tangles. Scientist believe that these plaques and tangles somehow play a critical role in blocking communication among nerve cells and disrupting processes the cells need to survive. While scientists know that Alzheimer’s disease involves the failure of nerve cells, why this happens is still not known.
Alzheimer’s disease progressively gets worse over time.
Although symptoms can vary widely, the first problem many people notice is forgetfulness severe enough to affect their ability to function at home or work, or enjoy long-life hobbies. The disease may cause a person to become confused, lost in familiar places, misplace things or have trouble with language.
Today it’s estimated that 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. That includes 13 percent of those over 65 years old and nearly 50 percent of those over 85 and older. By 2050, the number of individuals with the disease may reach up to 16 million. Because 70 percent of those with Alzheimer’s live at home, its impact extends to millions of family members, friends and caregivers.
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. Most individuals with the illness are 65 and older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s is approximately doubles every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.
Since Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time, experts have developed “stages” to describe how a person’s abilities change from normal function through advanced Alzheimer’s: Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia due to Alzheimer’s.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no way to stop the underlying death of brain cells. But drugs and non-drug treatments may help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
Whether you’re an individual with Alzheimer’s, a caregiver, health professional or someone who wants to learn more about the disease
ElderCare at Home can help. You can contact us at (888) 285-0093. Thanks for joining us today and we’ll see you again next week!