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HomePopularHow Do People Get Alzheimer's

How Do People Get Alzheimer’s

What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia

How To Get A Person Living with Dementia To Take A Shower

The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.

What Is Alzheimer Disease

Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain. Over time, the disease makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.

Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and his or her family.

It’s important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there’s hope that someday there will be a cure.

How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can confirm Alzheimers disease. A diagnosis comes after careful assessment. This may involve:

  • a detailed medical history
  • urine and blood tests
  • medical imaging, such as an MRI scan to assess shrinking of the brain

After eliminating other possible causes of symptoms , a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimers can be made.

An early diagnosis allows your doctor to work out if there is another cause of your symptoms that may be treatable. If a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease is most likely, you can start to discuss medical treatment and further assistance to help slow the degenerative process.

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More Useful Links And Resources

Risk factors.Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2021. Read about risk factors for dementia in our downloadable, print-friendly infosheet. This sheet also contains strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you reduce your risk of developing dementia.

Understanding genetics and Alzheimer’s disease.Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2018.In our downloadable, print-friendly infosheet, learn more about the role that genetics plays as a risk factor for dementia, and find out whether you should pursue genetic testing.

Risk factors and prevention. Alzheimer’s Society UK. This comprehensive webpage from the Alzheimer’s Society UK has some helpful nuggets of research and advice related to reducing your risk of dementia.

Tobacco use and dementia. World Health Organization , 2014. This report from the WHO details the evidence behind smoking tobacco as a risk factor for dementia.

Women and Dementia: Understanding sex/gender differences in the brain. brainXchange, 2018. This webinar discusses understandings of sex and gender, sex differences in Alzheimerâs disease, how the higher number of women with Alzheimer’s may be due to both, and a discussion of the role of estrogen in the health of brain regions associated with Alzheimerâs disease. In partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Consortium of Neurodegeneration in Aging .

Risk Factors To Consider

Understanding Dementia

Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimers.

You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.

The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.

Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying this gene can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.

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You Keep Getting Lost

The confusion associated with dementia can cause you to feel lost more often, possibly while on your way somewhere new. But it can even happen when heading somewhere you’ve been dozens of times.For example, as Dr. Schreiber says, “you may find that you are using your GPS to go to places that you knew how to get to previously.”

Of course, we all get turned around on occasion, so you won’t want to assume you have dementia just because you get lost while out driving or walking. And the same is true if you’ve always been bad with directions, or simply prefer sticking to a beaten path.

If you develop a new sense of disorientation, however, or find yourself getting lost on familiar roads, let a doctor know.

How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia

There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.

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Common Forms Of Dementia

There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 6070% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.

Annual Report To Parliament On Canada’s Dementia Strategy

Living with dementia

Each year the federal Minister of Health prepares a report to Parliament on the national dementia strategy.

The 2020 Report to Parliament shares a Canada-wide overview of some of the many dementia-related efforts underway across the country. This report highlights how many different organizations, including the federal government, are supporting the strategy’s national objectives and reflects the variety of those efforts.

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Recognising When Someone Is Reaching The End Of Their Life

Read about some of the signs that a person with dementia is nearing their death, and how you can support yourself as a carer, friend or relative.

It is important to know when a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life because it can help in giving them the right care. However it can be difficult to know when this time is.

This uncertainty can have a big impact on how the persons family feel, and may also affect how they feel themselves.

There are symptoms in the later stages of dementia that can suggest the person is reaching the final stage of their illness. These include:

It is likely that a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life if they have these symptoms, along with other problems such as frailty, infections that keep coming back, and pressure ulcers .;

Stage : Severe Decline

As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. They might also mistake a person for someone else, for instance, think their wife is their mother. Delusions might set in, such as thinking they need to go to work even though they no longer have a job.

You might need to help them go to the bathroom.

It might be hard to talk, but you can still connect with them through the senses. Many people with Alzheimer’s love hearing music, being read to, or looking over old photos.

At this stage, your loved one might struggle to:

  • Feed themselves

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Causes Of Alzheimers Disease

Scientists dont yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimers, a genetic mutation is usually the cause. Late-onset Alzheimers arises from a complex series of brain changes that occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimers may differ from person to person.

Genetic Testing For Alzheimer’s Disease

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A blood test can identify which APOE alleles a person has, but results cannot predict who will or will not develop Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, APOE testing is used primarily in research settings to identify study participants who may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This knowledge helps scientists look for early brain changes in participants and compare the effectiveness of possible treatments for people with different APOE profiles.

Genetic testing is also used by physicians to help diagnose early-onset Alzheimers disease and to test people with a strong family history of Alzheimers or a related brain disease.

Genetic testing for APOE or other genetic variants cannot determine an individuals likelihood of developing Alzheimers diseasejust which risk factor genes a person has. It is unlikely that genetic testing will ever be able to predict the disease with 100 percent accuracy, researchers believe, because too many other factors may influence its development and progression.

Some people learn their APOE status through consumer genetic testing or think about getting this kind of test. They may wish to consult a doctor or genetic counselor to better understand this type of test and their test results. General information about genetic testing can be found at:

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Difficulty Determining Time Or Place

Losing track of dates and misunderstanding the passage of time as it occurs are also two common symptoms. Planning for future events can become difficult since they arent immediately occurring.

As symptoms progress, people with AD can become increasingly forgetful about where they are, how they got there, or why theyre there.

How Many Canadians Live With Dementia Including Alzheimer’s Disease And How Many Are Newly Diagnosed Each Year

According to the most recent data available , more than 402,000 seniors are living with dementia in Canada . This represents a prevalence of 7.1%. About two-thirds of Canadian seniors living with dementia are women. Annually, there are approximately 76,000 new cases of dementia diagnosed in Canada. This represents an incidence of 14.3 new cases per 1,000 in the senior population . The incidence is higher among women than men. The prevalence and the incidence increase with age, as does the differential in prevalence and incidence estimates between men and women .

Table;1:

Prevalence and incidence of diagnosed dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, among Canadians aged 65;years and older, by age group and sex, Canada, 20132014

Age
15.8 14.3

Notes: Data do not include Saskatchewan’s data. The 95% confidence interval shows an estimated range of values which is likely to include the true value 19 times out of 20.

Data source: Public Health Agency of Canada, using Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System data files contributed by provinces and territories, April 2017.

Over a ten-year period , the age-standardized prevalence of dementia increased by 21.2%. During the same period, fluctuations in incidence have been observed. Drug data, one of the criteria used for case identification , became available in Alberta and Prince Edward Island in 20092010, which contributed to the temporary peak in incidence that year. Since then, incidence data suggest a decline .

Sex
6.1 14.3

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What Are Risk Factors

  • Risk factors are aspects of your lifestyle, environment and genetic background that increase the likelihood of getting a disease.
  • Risk factors on their own are not causes of a disease. Rather, risk factors represent an increased chance, but not a certainty, that dementia will develop.
  • Similarly, having little or no exposure to risk factors does not necessarily protect a person from developing dementia.

There are some risk factors that can be changed, and some that cannot â read on to know which are which!

Risk factors

Read about risk factors for dementia in our downloadable, print-friendly infosheet.

This sheet also contains strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you reduce your risk of developing dementia.

We May Finally Know What Causes Alzheimers And How To Stop It

Why Do People Living with Alzheimer’s Want to Go Home?

Alzheimers disease has destroyed neurons in the right-hand brain above

Jessica Wilson/Science Photo Library

AFTER decades of disappointment, we may have a new lead on fighting Alzheimers disease. Compelling evidence that the condition is caused by a bacterium involved in gum disease could prove a game-changer in tackling one of medicines biggest mysteries, and lead to effective treatments or even a vaccine.

As populations have aged, dementia has skyrocketed to become the fifth biggest cause of death worldwide. Alzheimers constitutes some 70 per cent of these cases , yet we dont know what causes it. The condition, which results in progressive loss of memory and cognitive function, usually over a decade or so, is devastating both to those who have it and to their loved ones.

The condition often involves the accumulation of two types of proteins called amyloid and tau in the brain. As these are among the earliest physical signs of the disease, the leading hypothesis since 1984 has been that the condition is caused by the defective control of these proteins, especially amyloid, which accumulates to form large, sticky plaques in the brain.

The bulk of research into understanding and treating Alzheimers has centred on this amyloid hypothesis. Huge sums of money have been invested in experiments involving mice genetically modified to produce amyloid, and in developing drugs that block or destroy amyloid proteins, or sometimes degraded tangles of tau.

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A Whole New Hypothesis

When science converges from multiple independent laboratories like this, it is very compelling, says Casey Lynch of Cortexyme, a pharmaceutical firm in San Francisco.

Now researchers from Cortexyme and several universities have reported finding the two toxic enzymes that P. gingivalis uses to feed on human tissue in 99 and 96 per cent of 54 human Alzheimers brain samples taken from the hippocampus a brain area important for memory . These protein-degrading enzymes are called gingipains, and they were found in higher levels in brain tissue that also had more tau fragments and thus more cognitive decline.

The team also found genetic material from P. gingivalis in the cerebral cortex a region involved in conceptual thinking in all three Alzheimers brains they looked for it in.

This is the first report showing P. gingivalis DNA in human brains, and the associated gingipains co-localising with plaques, says Sim Singhrao at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, who wasnt involved in the study. Her team has previously found that P. gingivalisactively invades the brains of mice with gum infections.

The Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria that can cause gum disease

A. Dowsett, Public Health England/Science Photo Library

When the team gave P. gingivalis gum disease to mice, it led to brain infection, amyloid production, tangles of tau protein and neural damage in the regions and nerves normally affected by Alzheimers. This suggests causation, says Lynch.

Life As A Caregiver: My Husband Is A Different Man Now

People dont understand the magnitude of work and care that it takes to care for someone with Alzheimers. Its justendless. Quality sleep isnt even an option for me. If I get five hours of intermittent sleep a night, I am doing really good.

We often use dark humor to cope with difficult stuff in our family. For example, one of the big jokes in my house is about how I have some-timers because sometimes I remember things and sometimes I dont. Thats how it is for caregivers. Were under so much stress and we have so many responsibilities, it can be hard to think straight sometimes.

But just when you think youre at your wits end and you cant do anymore, you somehow dig a little deeper and pray that God gives you a little more strength to deal with it and push forward. Some days Im still a wife, but most days, Im a caregiver. Ive lost the man that I married. Hes another man now, and I still love him, but its so different. I just keep trying to be the best wife and mother I can be.

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How Your Driving Might Reveal Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s

Everyone’s driving changes as they age. But for some people, subtle differences emerge in how they control a vehicle, which scientists say are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

In an experiment to find out whether these driving differences can be detected using Global Positioning System-based location-tracking devices, a group of over-65s in Missouri in the US agreed to have their driving closely monitored for one year.

The DRIVES Study at Washington University in St. Louis, led by Catherine Roe and Ganesh Babulal and funded by the National Institute on Aging, wanted to find out was whether just studying the driving habits of this group alone could reveal the start of the disease – without the need for invasive or expensive medical procedures.

After 365 days accumulating the information, they are confident that it could.

Among the 139 people involved in the study, medical tests had already shown around half of them had very early or “preclinical” Alzheimer’s disease. The other half did not. Analysis of their driving revealed detectable differences between the two groups.

Specifically, those with preclinical Alzheimer’s tended to drive more slowly, make abrupt changes, travel less at night, and logged fewer miles overall, for example. They also visited a smaller variety of destinations when driving, sticking to slightly more confined routes.

But the prediction based on age and driving alone was almost as precise.

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