Understanding Dementia: Alzheimer’s Disease
In the second part of our Understanding Dementia series, we’re going to focus on Alzheimer’s, what it is and how it affects lives all around the world. For part 1 of this series, check out our first post: Understanding Dementia: How It Works.
Is Alzheimer's the Same as Dementia?
The first thing you should know about Alzheimer’s disease is that people often interchange “Alzheimer’s” with “dementia” and confuse them as two words for the same thing, but that’s actually not accurate. Alzheimer’s disease is a subcategory of dementia with specific symptoms and characteristics that separate it from other types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia though, accounting for 60-80% of all dementia cases, which makes it easy to confuse the two.
What Is Alzheimer's Disease?
So what are the specific characteristics that identify Alzheimer’s? Here are some of the main facts to know:
- Alzheimer's is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder that degrades memory and thinking skills
- There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but researchers make new discoveries and bring us closer to better treatments all the time
- Alzheimer’s progresses over time and takes the form of 7 stages that become increasingly severe
- Early-onset Alzheimer's affects those aged 30-60 and is much less common than late-onset Alzheimer's.
- Alzheimer's is caused by changes in the brain that affect how well your neurons work
- Alzheimer's is more than just memory loss
That last one is important because a lot of people think Alzheimer’s just causes forgetfulness and memory loss, however, the symptoms run much deeper than normal signs of aging.
What Are Signs Of Alzheimer's?
Other signs of Alzheimer’s include:
- Inability to remember newly learned information
- Confusion and disorientation
- Mood and personality changes
- Random suspicions and delusional thoughts
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of motor skills
The symptoms get more severe as the disease progresses to the later stages, but as you can see, Alzheimer’s is a lot more than just a normal part of aging. The Alzheimer’s Association put together a document outlining 10 signs of Alzheimer’s to look for, which is a great resource to check out for more information. You may also wish to learn more about our memory care options if you’re a caregiver of someone who is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.
How Do You Treat Alzheimer's?
While there currently is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease, there have been significant developments in research of treatment options. As more cases have been studied, treatment has become available for addressing different areas of Alzheimer's. Your doctor can guide you through a variety of prescription drugs that can be effective in treating behavioral symptoms and balancing chemicals to help maintain independent living and daily functions. Having a caretaker is also essential, to provide support through challenges a person may face throughout the day. Along with treating symptoms, preventing further progression of the disease has been heavily linked to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and active social interactions.
For many families, providing the highest level of care for a loved one with Alzheimer's can be difficult every day. You can explore our memory care options to see how we offer excellent care 24/7 for Alzheimer's patients.