Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that can virtually steal away the memory and the abilities of innocent people. It is tragic when it happens and, unfortunately, it happens to many people each year. Are their cures? Is there hope for individuals who are faced with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease? Let us take a closer look at it and see just what it is and why it is such a horrific disease to have.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a disease of dementia. It is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease affects the parts of the brain that control such everyday activities as thoughts, memory and language. Unfortunately, scientists and doctor’s do not know what is the actual cause of Alzheimer’s disease. They do not yet understand why it happens or who it will strike. What they believe is that a combination of factors contributes to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The largest risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease is in fact age. People who are over the age of 65 double their chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease every five years. It is thought that Alzheimer’s disease can be related at least somewhat to genetics. There is actually a type of Alzheimer’s, familial, that strikes individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 that is inherited. But, in the common form of the disease, there is no direct link that is that obvious.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms that can be the first signs of this paralyzing disease. The first symptoms, though, are not obvious. Mild forgetfulness is often the first symptom to be seen. Then, it becomes more obvious when people begin to have trouble remembering more recent activities and events. Or, they may have more trouble remembering familiar people, places or things. As it progresses, symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsen to where individuals can no longer solve simple math problems. At this stage, people may not realize that they have anything wrong with them. Stress, over tiredness or just plan ‘old age’ may be blamed.
Symptoms become more serious though. As simple tasks become harder and harder to do, individuals realize there may be a problem and seek medical advice. Things like not remembering how to brush your teeth or how to tie a shoe become increasingly more difficult. They may not be able to think clearly, may become anxious or even aggressive. Sometimes, individuals will wander. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease will leave patients needing complete care.
The Outlook For An Alzheimer’s Disease Patient
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects each and every person differently. It begins slowly and can take years to worsen in some people. In others, it is much faster. The end result is severe brain damage. The average Alzheimer’s disease patient will live between eight and ten years from the time they are diagnosed. Others can live up to twenty years.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Some drugs that are used early on in the treatment of patients can slow down the progression of the disease in some patients. Some medications are used to treat the symptoms of the disease which can help to make patients more comfortable. On the horizon are many new drugs and treatment plans, including stem cell research that can benefit individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease.
For the family of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the experience of watching their loved one slowly disappear in front of their eyes is extremely painful.
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