Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States
- Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
- The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
- The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4
Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6
Facts About Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease is becoming more common as the general population gets older and lives longer.;Alzheimer disease;usually affects people older than 65. A small number of people have early-onset Alzheimer disease, which starts when they are in their 30s or 40s.
People live for an average of 8 years after their symptoms appear. But the disease can progress quickly in some people and slowly in others. Some people live as long as 20 years with the disease.
No one knows what causes Alzheimer disease. Genes, environment, lifestyle, and overall health may all play a role.
Don’t Miss: Is Weight Loss A Symptom Of Dementia
Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey
In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.
What to read next…
How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Medical management can improve quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimers disease and for their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimers disease. Treatment addresses several areas:
- Helping people maintain brain health.
- Managing behavioral symptoms.
- Slowing or delaying symptoms of the disease.
Recommended Reading: What Effects Does Alzheimer’s Have On The Brain
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with the disease those with the late-onset type; symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Early-onset Alzheimers occurs between a persons 30s and mid-60s and is very rare. Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers .
These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimers disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. Many other complex brain changes are thought to play a role in Alzheimers, too.
This damage initially appears to take place in the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential in forming memories. As neurons die, additional parts of the brain are affected. By the final stage of Alzheimers, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease.;This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia.;About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Alzheimer
Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia
Alzheimers disease and dementia are two terms that are often used interchangeably as many people believe that one means the other. In fact, the distinction between the two diseases often causes confusion on the behalf of caregivers, families and patients. Learn more about how the two diagnoses, while related, are remarkably different.
What Happens To The Brain In Alzheimers Disease
People with AD gradually suffer memory loss and a decline in thinking abilities, as well as major personality changes. These losses in cognitive function are accompanied by changes in the brain, including the build-up of amyloid plaques and tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles, which result in the death of brain cells and the breakdown of the connections between them.
Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are the primary hallmarks of Alzheimers disease. Plaques are dense deposits of protein and cellular material outside and around the brains nerve cells. Tangles are twisted fibers that build up inside the nerve cells. Scientists have known about plaques and tangles since 1906, when a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, first identified them in the brain of woman who had died after suffering paranoid delusions and psychosis. Intensive research efforts of the last two decades have revealed much about their composition, how they form, and their possible roles in the development of Alzheimers disease. The deposition of amyloid in the form of plaques is thought by many scientists to trigger the cascade of events leading to Alzheimers pathology. Amyloid now is believed to be a critical target for eventual treatment. The best evidence that amyloid causes the disease comes from the genetic studies in which mutations of APP, PS1, PS2 and APOE e4 all facilitate amyloid accumulation.
Don’t Miss: What Is The 7th Stage Of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s Disease Stages And Symptoms Center
The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease depend on the stage of the disease. Some doctors and researchers disagree in regard to the number of stages of Alzheimer’s disease . The Global Deterioration Scale or GDS identifies seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease that include stage 1 , stage 2 , stage 3 , stage 4 , stage 5 , stage 6 , and stage 7 . There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, however, there are drugs and therapies to help the symptoms Alzheimer’s disease causes.
What Is Alzheimers Disease
- Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia.
- It is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and;possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
- Alzheimers disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
- It can seriously affect a persons ability to carry out daily activities.
You May Like: Can Sleep Apnea Cause Alzheimer’s Disease
When Someone You Love Has Alzheimer Disease
You might feel sad or angry or both if someone you love has Alzheimer disease. You might feel nervous around the person, especially if he or she is having trouble remembering important things or can no longer take care of himself or herself.
You might not want to go visit the person, even though your mom or dad wants you to. You are definitely not alone in these feelings. Try talking with a parent or another trusted adult. Just saying what’s on your mind might help you feel better. You also may learn that the adults in your life are having struggles of their own with the situation.
If you visit a loved one who has Alzheimer disease, try to be patient. He or she may have good days and bad days. It can be sad if you can’t have fun in the same ways together. Maybe you and your grandmother liked to go to concerts. If that’s no longer possible, maybe bring her some wonderful music and listen together. It’s a way to show her that you care and showing that love is important, even if her memory is failing.
What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
Read Also: Are Jigsaw Puzzles Good For Dementia
Signs And Symptoms Of Early
Symptoms are generally mild to start, but become more noticeable as the disease progresses. The person may begin having difficulty with:
- Memory Losing items like keys around the house, forgetting a friends name or a recent conversation, getting lost in a familiar place.
- Speech Repeating oneself or struggling to follow a conversation.
- Visual Perception Difficulty seeing things in three dimensions and judging distances.
- Concentrating, Organizing, or Planning Struggling to make decisions, solve problems, or complete multistep tasks, like cooking a meal.;
- Orientation Getting confused about where they are or the time or date.
- Mood Feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable.
Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings
This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.
Your parent may forget where they are and how they got there.; Along with losing track of dates, seasons and the time this is one of the most tell-tale signs of early onset dementia.
They may also struggle to understand something if its not happening immediately. This is because the mind of someone with dementia is mostly situated in the present and they find it difficult to comprehend the passage of time.
For example, your mum may tell you shes missed you because she thinks she hasnt seen you in a long time, but in reality you visited her last week. ;Another example includes time passing very slowly in a general sense: ten minutes might seem like an hour, an hour might seem like a day and so on.
Read Also: Can Diet Soda Cause Dementia
Patient Perspective: What I Learned From My Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis
“I was always really organized and meticulous. When I was age 50 or 52, I started to notice things changing. I couldn’t sleep. I was losing things and having trouble focusing. At home, I was having difficulty with finances, keeping things organized and doing the laundry. Everything seemed monumental. At first, doctors blamed it on menopause, anxiety or depression. It took almost 10 years and three different doctors, but, finally, I was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. My very first reaction was relief thank God I’m not losing my mind. I felt validated and, finally, respected. After the relief it was truly a grieving process. I felt very angry and frustrated and in disbelief for probably six months. Then I got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association. Meeting other people with the same disease brought me hope and the realization that I was not alone. I felt empowered to do what I could to stop this disease to raise awareness, to raise funds. I also found a voice through advocacy. I’m not quiet anymore like I used to be. I want to show the world you can have a productive and meaningful life while living with Alzheimer’s.
Tammy Maida, 64, a former nurse in San Jose, California, and a national early-stage adviser for the Alzheimer’s Association
Ask the Expert
Q&A with Beth Kallmyer, vice president of Care and Support for the Alzheimer’s Association
What are some misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease?
How can I lower my risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
Medications For Cognitive Symptoms
No disease-modifying drugs are available for Alzheimers disease, but some options may reduce the symptoms and help improve quality of life.
Drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors can ease cognitive symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, altered thought processes, and judgment problems. They improve neural communication across the brain and slow the progress of these symptoms.
Three common drugs with Food and Drug Administration approval to treat these symptoms of Alzheimers disease are:
- donepezil , to treat all stages
- galantamine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages
- rivastigmine , to treat mild-to-moderate stages
Another drug, called memantine , has approval to treat moderate-to-severe Alzheimers disease. A combination of memantine and donepezil is also available.
Also Check: What Are The Last Stages Of Vascular Dementia
Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a;65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
Recommended Reading: How To Definitively Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease
What Increases The Risk For Dementia
- AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
- Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
- Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
- Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
- Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.
Is Alzheimers Hereditary
Although the genes you inherit from your parents can raise your risk of developing Alzheimers, researchers say that only rarely is Alzheimers caused by mutations that are passed directly from parent to child.
Those cases almost always involve early-onset Alzheimers disease, an uncommon type that develops before age 65.
Alzheimers disease caused by gene mutations;accounts for between 7 and 12 percent of all cases of early-onset Alzheimers and less than 1 percent of all Alzheimers cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Also Check: When A Loved One Has Dementia
What Is Mixed Dementia
It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .
Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include: