Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide. This disorder adversely impacts memory, thinking, and behavior in individuals. Multiple things can cause dementia, including illnesses and brain traumas. Sometimes there is no recognized reason.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The condition is often diagnosed in patients over the age of 65. It is typically described as having an “early onset” or “younger onset” if it is discovered earlier.
Alzheimer’s has no known cure, although there are medications that can halt the disease’s growth. It is characterized by memory loss and behavioral changes.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease specifically refers to the brain changes associated with the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Dementia, on the other hand, is an umbrella term that refers to a decline in cognitive abilities, including memory, thinking, and reasoning, that interferes with daily life activities.
The brain experiences structural and chemical changes in Alzheimer’s disease that impair neuronal connection and cause brain cell degeneration and death.
This process primarily affects areas of the brain responsible for memory, thinking, and behavior.
Common Signs & Symptoms
People occasionally experience moments of memory loss. However, those who have Alzheimer’s disease exhibit routine habits and symptoms that get worse with time. These may consist of:
- Loss of memory halting routine tasks like keeping appointments
- Difficulty with routine tasks, such as using a microwave,
- Issues with problem-solving, speaking, or writing,
- Being confused about dates or locations
- Reduced judgment
- Lower level of personal hygiene
- Changes in personality and mood
- Retreat from the community, family, and friends
These symptoms do not always indicate Alzheimer’s disease. To identify the cause, it’s important to visit a doctor.
Available Treatment, Yet No Cure
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several treatment options aim to manage symptoms and improve cognitive function. These include medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, which can help stabilize and manage behavioral symptoms.
Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine, are commonly prescribed to help improve memory, thinking, and reasoning in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Lifestyle modifications, such as regular physical exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep, contribute to brain health and may slow down disease progression.
Researchers continue to explore new approaches, therapies, and potential preventive measures, but finding a definitive cure remains a significant challenge. However, ongoing research offers hope for future breakthroughs in understanding the disease and developing more effective treatments.
What to Watch for Early Detection
Recognizing the early signs and symptoms helps individuals and their families seek appropriate medical evaluation and support services.
Memory problems that affect daily life should be taken seriously. These include forgetting important dates or events, relying heavily on memory aids or family members for reminders, and repeatedly asking for the same information.
Difficulty with problem-solving, finding the right words, and making decisions can indicate cognitive impairment. Struggling to follow a familiar recipe, participate in conversations, or make once routine choices may suggest early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Noticeable changes in mood, behavior, or personality may indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These changes may include increased irritability, apathy, withdrawal from social activities, or uncharacteristic mood swings.
If any of these early warning signs are observed, it is important to encourage individuals to seek medical evaluation and consultation with healthcare professionals specializing in cognitive disorders. Early diagnosis allows for appropriate treatment, support, and planning for the future.
How to Help Protect Your Brain
Regular physical exercise has been shown to have significant benefits for brain health. Engaging in activities such as walking, swimming, or aerobic exercises helps improve blood flow to the brain and promotes the growth of new neurons. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking, also contributes to brain health.
Keeping the brain active and engaged helps a lot. Activities such as solving puzzles, reading books, learning new skills or languages, and engaging in hobbies that require mental effort can help stimulate the brain.
Maintaining strong social connections, participating in social activities, and engaging in meaningful relationships can help protect and stimulate the brain. Interacting with others promotes cognitive stimulation, and emotional well-being, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is essential for brain health.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are progressive neurological conditions that significantly impact cognition, memory, behavior, and daily functioning. While there is no cure, available treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Promoting awareness and understanding of these conditions helps reduce stigma and fosters a supportive environment.
By understanding Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, recognizing early signs, and adopting brain-healthy habits, individuals can take control of their cognitive well-being and contribute to a society that supports and empowers those affected by these conditions.
Sequoia Senior Solutions provides help for you and your loved one navigate the caring path, please contact us right away if you or someone you know needs emotional assistance throughout their journey with Alzheimer’s.