Alzheimer’s disease defined:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, terminal, degenerative brain disease. It is the fourth leading cause of death in adults and currently affects over four million people in the United States. This number is expected to increase over the next several years as the baby boomers age, until it reaches fourteen million by the year 2025.
Alzheimer disease generally occurs in people over seventy five years of age; however it does strike people in their forties, fifties, and sixties, but this is rare. When Alzheimer’s disease occurs prior to the age of sixty five, it is referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s.
The major symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are:
Dementia in the later stages of the disease
Scientists know that Alzheimer disease is characterized by a gradual spread of sticky plaques and clumps of tangled fibers that disrupt the organization of nerve cells in the brain. However , a definite cause, prevention, or cause has not been found.
A myth about Alzheimer disease says that nothing can be done about the disease. This is not true. Much can be done to assist the person with Alzheimer’s disease to maintain the highest possible level of functioning as long as possible and in providing the highest quality of life.
Several medications are available that may, in some individuals, improve symptoms or temporarily slow the disease progress, including: Cognex, Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl. Other drugs are now being tested and could be marketed in the near future.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease :
There is no quick and easy way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. In fact a diagnosis can only be conclusively arrived at following autopsy of the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is generally diagnosed by exclusiveness; in other words by eliminating diseases, which can be definitely diagnosed.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
The term Alzheimer’s disease is often used interchangeably with the term dementia. In actually , these terms are not interchangeable. Dementia is only a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, and it occurs only in the mid to late stages of the disease process. Approximately seventy other diseases also have dementia as a symptom.
Delirium and depression can co-exist with Alzheimer’s disease, and can be treated, but often overlooked in the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Delirium produces confusion and disorientation, but in contrast to the dementia seen in Alzheimer’s disease, it produces a clouding of consciousness. It has a rapid onset, and is of limited duration. It is caused by a medical condition such as infection. Delirium requires prompt medical evaluation and treatment of the medical cause.
Depression can also produce symptoms common to alzheimer’s disease such as: forgetfulness, difficulty making decisions, withdrawal, poor judgment and irritable mood. A person with Alzheimer’s disease with and identified and...