Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a serious brain disorder that impacts daily living through memory loss and cognitive changes. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease, progressing from mild forgetfulness to widespread neurological impairment and ultimately death. Chemical and structural changes in the brain gradually destroy the ability to create, remember, learn, reason, and relate to others. As critical cells die, drastic personality loss occurs and body systems fail.
Signs and symptoms that can lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis
In order to arrive at a diagnosis of Alzheimers, your doctor will gather family history information, order medical tests, and estimate your memory loss using a variety of assessments. The most important information relates to past and present functioning.
Classic patterns not only eliminate other causes, but also distinguish Alzheimer’s from other forms of dementia. The following criteria must be present to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease:
* Significant memory problems - in immediate recall, short term, or long term memory
* Significant thinking deficits-in at least one of four areas, including expressing or comprehending language; identifying familiar objects through the senses; poor coordination, gate, or muscle function; and the executive functions of planning, ordering, and making judgments
* Decline severe enough to interfere with relationships and or work performance
* Symptoms appear gradually and become steadily worse over time
* Other causes are ruled out -memory and cognitive symptoms are not the result of another medical condition or disease
(Absence of Impairment)
There are no problems with memory, orientation, judgment, communication, or daily activities. You or your loved one is a normally functioning adult.
You or your loved one might be experiencing some lapses in memory or other cognitive problems, but neither family nor friends are able to detect any changes. A medical exam would not reveal any problems either.
(Noticeable Cognitive Decline)
Family members and friends recognize mild changes in memory, communication patterns, or behavior. A visit to the doctor might result in a diagnosis of early-stage or mild Alzheimer's disease, but not always.
Cognitive decline is more evident. You or your loved one may become more forgetful of recent events or personal details. Other problems include impaired mathematical ability (for instance, difficulty counting backwards from 100 by 9s), a diminished ability to carry out complex tasks like throwing a party or managing finances, moodiness, and social withdrawal.
(Middle-Stage/Moderate to Late-Stage/Severe Alzheimer's)
This is often the most difficult stage for caregivers because it's characterized by personality and behavior changes. In addition, memory continues to decline, and assistance is required for most daily activities.
In the final stage, it is usually no longer possible to respond to the surrounding environment. You or your loved one may be able to speak words or short phrases, but communication is extremely limited. Basic functions begin to shut down, such as motor coordination and the ability to swallow. Total care is required around the clock.
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Treatment for Alzheimer's
Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. As prevalence rates climb, their focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies.
Although there are no magic solutions, tantalizing new evidence suggests it may be possible to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease through a combination of healthful habits.
Scientists now suggest you can stimulate your mind, improve your mood, sharpen your memory, and reduce your Alzheimer’s risks. Learn their discoveries and join the race towards brain vitality now.
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