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What is Alzheimer disease?

What is Alzheimer disease?

Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is a form of dementia, a term used to describe a group of brain disorders that cause memory loss and a decline in mental function over time. In fact, Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is the most common form of primary dementia 鈥?which is dementia caused by changes in the brain that are not the result of another condition, such as a stroke.

There are other forms of dementia not related to Alzheimer鈥檚 disease, such as vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontal lobe dementia. Vascular dementia is different from Alzheimer鈥檚 disease in that it is often caused by strokes or other vascular events. Although the first symptoms of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease are often confused with the changes that take place in normal aging, it鈥檚 important to remember that Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is not a normal part of aging.4

Alzheimer鈥檚 disease currently affects about 4.5 million men and women in the United States, a number that is expected to rise to 16 million by the year 2050.1 The incidence of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease increases with age, and it is very rare among people younger than 60. It affects up to 50 percent of people older than 85, and the risk increases with age.2 For example, for every 5-year increase over the age of 65, the percentage of people with Alzheimer鈥檚 disease doubles.3 Although the first symptoms of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease are often confused with the changes that take place in normal aging, it鈥檚 important to remember that Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is not a normal part of aging.4

The diagram below charts the projected rapid progression of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease in the United States. This progression is generally due to the aging of "baby boomers."

The information learned from a series of diagnostic tests performed by a doctor can help determine whether a person has Alzheimer鈥檚 disease with an accuracy rate of about 90 percent. Doctors will determine that a person is highly likely to have Alzheimer鈥檚 disease when these tests show that he or she has:3
Dementia confirmed by medical and psychological exams
Problems in at least two areas of mental functioning
Progressive loss of memory and other mental functions
Symptoms that began between the ages of 40 and 90
No other disorders that might account for the dementia
No other conditions that may mimic dementia including hypothyroidism20, overmedication, drug-drug interactions, vitamin B12 deficiency21, or depression22
While there is no cure for Alzheimer鈥檚 disease, prescription treatments may help slow the progression of symptoms. Early diagnosis is a very important factor in treating the disease, because the sooner you know you have it, the sooner you can start treatment.

When treatment is started in the earlier stages 鈥?such as the mild to moderate stages 鈥?you, your doctor, and your caregiver will have much more time to plan ahead. More time will allow for accurate diagnosis and treatment. But it is never too late. If you are diagnosed in the moderate stage of the disease, there are treatments available which provide benefits.
Some prescription treatments can slow the progression of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease symptoms, which is why it鈥檚 important to diagnose the disease in the mild to moderate stages. The sooner Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.

Here are a few of the more common prescription treatments.9 Click the highlighted areas to learn more about them.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors 鈥?These drugs are indicated for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer鈥檚 disease.

NMDA Receptor Antagonist 鈥?The first and only medication approved to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer鈥檚 disease.

Other Alternative Treatments 鈥?Some herbal remedies and vitamins are promoted as treatments for Alzheimer鈥檚 disease
In people with Alzheimer鈥檚 disease, changes in the brain may begin 10 to 20 years before any visible signs or symptoms appear. Some regions of the brain may begin to shrink, resulting in memory loss, the first visible sign of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease. Diagnosing and treating Alzheimer鈥檚 disease can effectively slow the process, making this the most important factor in successful treatment.1

Over time, Alzheimer鈥檚 disease progresses through three main stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Because there is currently no way of looking inside a living brain to see the damage Alzheimer鈥檚 disease causes, these stages are characterized by a collection of signs and symptoms that people with Alzheimer鈥檚 disease experience, as well as changes in behavior noticed by their health care provider or people who know them.3

Progression of Disease1

After first being diagnosed, some people may live 10 years or more. The course of the disease varies from person to person, but symptoms develop over the same general stages.3 In most cases, cognitive symptoms appear first, many times before diagnosis (0 to 3 years into the course of the disease). Functional and behavioral problems follow and can be evident any time within 1.5 to 6 years. Placement in a nursing home may be needed at any point from the 2.5 year mark on.

The diagram below gives a general overview of the progression of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease 鈥?and the gradual decline in the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score 鈥?from the time cognitive, functional, and behavioral symptoms first appear. The MMSE is a common assessment tool used to diagnose Alzheimer鈥檚 disease.
I will now describe the difference in MILD, MODERATE, and SEVERE
People with mild Alzheimers disease often seem healthy, but they are actually having trouble making sense of the world around them. It often takes time to realize that something is wrong because the initial symptoms are often confused with changes that take place in normal aging. Visit this webpage to view some charts on Alzheimer's Disease- MILD

A diagnosis of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease is often made in the moderate stage.6 During this stage, people begin to recognize symptoms in themselves or others, and will realize they need to consult their doctor. In moderate Alzheimer鈥檚 disease, the damaging processes occurring in the brain worsen and spread to other areas that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and thought. In this stage, signs and symptoms become more pronounced and behavioral problems can occur. To properly diagnose, doctors may perform any of a variety of diagnostic tests, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination, or MMSE. Caregivers often need to provide more intensive care. Signs and symptoms of moderate Alzheimer鈥檚 disease can include:3
Increased memory loss
Shortened attention span
Difficulty recognizing friends, family, and loved ones
Problems with language, including speech, reading, comprehension, and writing
Difficulty organizing thoughts
Trouble learning new things or coping with unexpected situations
Restlessness, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, and wandering, especially in the late afternoon or evening (sometimes called sundowning)
Repetitive statements or movements
Hallucinations, delusions, suspiciousness, or paranoia
Reduced impulse control (for example, sloppy table manners, use of vulgar language)

In the last stage of Alzheimer鈥檚 disease, damage to the brain鈥檚 nerve cells is widespread. At this point, full-time care is typically required. For friends, family, and caregivers, this can be the most difficult stage, since all sense of self seems to vanish. People with severe Alzheimer鈥檚 disease may be bedridden for long periods of time, and they often die from other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Signs of severe Alzheimer鈥檚 disease may include:3
Complete loss of language and memory
Weight loss
Seizures, skin infections, and difficulty swallowing
Making noises, muttering
Increased sleeping
Lack of bladder and bowel control
Loss of physical coordination

If you discover that you have symptoms of Alzeheimer's Disease, you should contact a specialist immediatly. Also, start looking for a caregiver. They play wonderful roles in helping you understand this disease and take care of you. Run an ad in the local paper and interview. Include that you are looking for a LPN or an RN (both are nurses) for full-time care; you may want to see if you would like to have one live-in with you. If you have an extra bedroom and are open to it, have them move in with you; it willl make it mych easier. I know that it is very hard to move to a nursing home or assisted living, I work in one and see people everyday who are upset they had to give up their lives to move to one. If it becomes to the MODERATE stage, consider a nursing home. They have activites, many people your age to visit with all day long, three meals a day and most have two snacks a day, nurses give you your meds and take care of anything you need done, and you're in a safer enviroment. It's great! You will love it; I can guarntee it! Source(s): Many, Many, Many, nights poring over medical books before exams.
Its when you.. Its when you... Its when you...

Oh yeah when you forget things. Like who your parents are,, and whatever else. It starts slow then progesses..
this is a neuro degenerative disease that generally comes with old age. The person suffering it will gradually lost their short term memory, As the disorder progresses, cognitive (intellectual) impairment extends to the domains of language (aphasia), skilled movements (apraxia), recognition (agnosia), and those functions (such as decision-making and planning) closely related to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as they become disconnected from the limbic system, reflecting extension of the underlying pathological process
It is a disease that ,,,,,a,,,,,,,what was I doing?? a.......a.....a......
oh, now I know. I had a good breakfast.
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