Alzheimer's Disease: What You Should Know

Get the facts about Alzheimer’s, including what causes it, symptoms, and how it’s treated.

 If you think you, or a loved one, has Alzheimer’s, a slowly progressive brain disease that affects memory, thinking and behavior, it’s normal to be worried. We’ve broken down the basics to help you better understand the condition, so you can get the help you need.

Causes

Typically, Alzheimer’s affects people ages 65 and older. But, approximately five percent of people develop early-onset Alzheimer’s between 30 to 60 years of age.


A concrete cause of Alzheimer’s hasn’t been identified yet, but experts believe a combination of aging, genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors are to blame. A genetic mutation is believed to be the cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

While it’s not always the case, older folks with mild cognitive impairment have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms

Alzheimer’s affects everybody differently, but memory issues and a decline of basic cognitive functions like reasoning and judgment are generally the first signs of the disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s move through stages and include mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer’s. A person with early-stage, or mild, Alzheimer’s is still able to function independently, but he or she may have trouble remembering certain words or where everyday objects are located. Signs of mild Alzheimer’s include:

  • Problems remembering common words or names
  • Wandering off and getting lost
  • Difficulty handling money
  • Trouble planning, organizing and performing regular tasks
  • Repeating questions

Moderate Alzheimer’s tends to last the longest and bring on the most changes. Signs include:

  • Greater memory loss, including forgetting one’s past and trouble recognizing family and friends
  • Problems learning how to do new things
  • Confusion about where they are or what day it is
  • Difficulty carrying out multi-step tasks
  • Mood, personality and behavior changes, including being suspicious, delusional, compulsive or repetitive
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and being up at night

People with severe, or late-stage, Alzheimer’s lose the ability to respond to their surroundings, to communicate and, eventually, to control movement, such as walking and swallowing. They are totally dependent on a caregiver and require round-the-clock care.

Alzheimer’s treatments

While there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments that can help ease symptoms and possibly slow disease progression. Medications commonly used include Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda.

Life expectancy

On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after being diagnosed. However, some people can live as long as 20 years with the disease.

Current research

There have been and continue to be lots of research studies underway. In fact, 90% of what we know about Alzheimer’s was uncovered in the last 15 years. Researchers are continuing to look for treatments that better target the disease process itself, as well as trying to find ways to identify the brain changes early and intervene before they progress to Alzheimer’s.

Resources

Alzheimer’s Association: alz.org

National Institute on Aging: nia.nih.gov

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: alzfdn.org

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

7 Essential Items to Have for a Pandemic Date, According to a Relationship Expert

Celebrity divorce attorney and relationship expert Vikki Ziegler says you should treat COVID-19 like an STD.

Just when we thought relationships and dating could not get any more complicated, the pandemic took this matter to a whole new level. Celebrity divorce attorney and relationship expert, Vikki Ziegler receives an abundance of questions about this exact topic, every single day. Her fans and followers message her via her social media channels, in the hopes of finding the right way to safely date during these times. So, if this topic has crossed your mind, rest assured you are not alone.

For those who used to "swipe left and right," on the regular, Vikki recommends slowing down for the time being, no matter what type of antibacterial wipes are being used between your swipes. Serial dating during COVID-19 can be dangerous and also very selfish at the same time. This might be a good time to either take a break from dating altogether, or invest more time in one relationship and being monogamous, at least for right now. "Everyone should treat COVID-19 as they do an STD, while dating and practice safe EVERYTHING, even beyond just intimacy," says Ziegler. "This will simplify the process and make the do's and don'ts much less complex."

She recommends that new partners keep the dating virtual prior to both being tested and or having the vaccine. "Screendating" can still be both fun and safe at the same time. She suggests that you still wear your favorite new dress, get that fresh haircut or blowout and act as though you are still going out, even if the date is happening in the privacy of your own home. She has suggested some ideas such as virtual movie nights, happy hours, cooking classes, and the most obvious, the at-home and virtual dining date. This would entail both partners ordering food to each of their respective homes, but using the same menu as if they were dining in person.

Keep Reading Show less