How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed And Treated
Doctors may ask questions about health, conduct cognitive tests, and carry out standard medical tests to determine whether to diagnose a person with Alzheimers disease. If a doctor thinks a person may have Alzheimers, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Specialists may conduct additional tests, such as brain scans or lab tests of spinal fluid, to help make a diagnosis. These tests measure signs of the disease, such as changes in brain size or levels of certain proteins.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are several medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can help manage some symptoms of the disease along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. In 2021, FDA provided accelerated approval for a new medication, aducanumab, that targets the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The new medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits, but has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring other drug therapies and nondrug interventions to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms.
How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed
To diagnose Alzheimers, doctors may:
- Ask the person and a family member or friend questions about overall health, use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality
- Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language
- Carry out standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, to identify other possible causes of the problem
- Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , or positron emission tomography , to rule out other possible causes for symptoms
These tests may be repeated to give doctors information about how the persons memory and other cognitive functions are changing over time. They can also help diagnose other causes of memory problems, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, mild cognitive impairment, or a non-Alzheimers dementia, including vascular dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
People with memory problems should return to the doctor every 6 to 12 months.
How Much Time Can Treatment Add
Treatment will not prevent the progression of AD. It is also unclear if treatment can add time to a persons life. Ultimately, AD will progress and take its toll on the brain and body. As it progresses, symptoms and side effects will get worse.
However, a few medications may be able to slow the progression of AD at least for a short time. Treatment can also improve your quality of life and help treat symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your treatment options.
study identified several factors that affect a persons life expectancy. These include:
- Gender: A 2004 study found that men lived an average of 4.2 years after their initial diagnosis. Women were found to live an average of 5.7 years after their diagnosis.
- Severity of symptoms: People with significant motor impairment, such as a history of falls and a tendency to wander or walk away, had shorter life expectancies.
- Brain abnormalities: The study also detected a connection between brain and spinal cord abnormalities and the length of life.
- Other health problems: People with heart disease, a history of heart attack, or diabetes had shorter lifespans than patients without these complicating health factors.
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What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. It was first recorded in 1907 by Dr Alois Alzheimer. Dr Alzheimer reported the case of Auguste Deter, a middle-aged woman with dementia and specific changes in her brain. For the next 60 years Alzheimers disease was considered a rare condition that affected people under the age of 65. It was not until the 1970s that Dr Robert Katzman declared that “senile dementia” and Alzheimers disease were the same condition and that neither were a normal part of aging.
Alzheimers disease can be either sporadic or familial.
Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but usually occurs after age 65 and is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Familial Alzheimers disease is a very rare genetic condition, caused by a mutation in one of several genes. The presence of mutated genes means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their 40’s or 50’s.
The Healthy Human Brain
Behind the ears and temples are the temporal lobes of the brain. These regions process speech and working memory, and also higher emotions such as empathy, morality and regret. Beneath the forebrain are the more primitive brain regions such as the limbic system. The limbic system is a structure that is common to all mammals and processes our desires and many emotions. Also in the limbic system is the hippocampus a region that is vital for forming new memories.
Genes And Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused when blood flow to the brain is reduced, damaging nerve cells. This can happen as a result of a stroke or damage to blood vessels deep in the brain. The majority of cases of vascular dementia are not caused by faulty genes.
We may carry genes that affect our risk of stroke, heart disease or other diseases that may contribute to vascular dementia. However, lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, drinking alcohol over the recommended limits, and an unbalanced diet can also affect our risk.
There are rare genetic disorders that can cause vascular dementia by damaging blood vessels in the brain. One is called CADASIL and can be passed down through families. CADASIL only affects around 1,000 people in the UK.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers
Memory problems are often one of the first signs of Alzheimers. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may include problems with:
- Word-finding, or having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age.
- Vision and spatial issues, like awareness of the space around them.
- Impaired reasoning or judgment, which can impact decisions.
Other symptoms may be changes in the persons behavior, including:
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.
- Repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Wandering and getting lost.
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places.
- Mood and personality changes.
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression.
Getting Connected To Services After Diagnosis
â said, âOh, this is great, we have a diagnosis, what do we do now? Is there a pill, orâ¦?â And this is when the doctor said: âNo, thereâs no pill, thereâs nothing that we can do at all,â and youâll have to basically âgo home, get your affairs in order because you will die from this.ââ â from Ontario. Mary Beth lives with young onset frontotemporal dementia.
Even after an accurate diagnosis is made, a younger person with dementia is still likely to face obstacles. These obstacles may start with being unable to get more information about dementia or find referral to dementia-focused programs and services in their community.
We know that many people living with dementia go on to live very fulfilling lives for quite some time. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge and training, some healthcare providers still seem to offer little hope or support for life after diagnosis.
However, even if their doctor is helpful and can suggest practical next steps, there is another significant obstacle for the person diagnosed with young onset dementia to overcome.
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Treatment For Alzheimer’s Disease
At this stage, there is no cure and no treatment that can stop the Alzheimers disease progressing.Medications are available that can help to stabilise or slow the decline in memory and thinking abilities for a time, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Other medications are available that might help with secondary symptoms like depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.It is important to remember that all medications have side effects. People with Alzheimers disease may take a number of medications and your doctor can help you to understand how the different medications might interact with each other.Non-medication therapies, staying active and socially connected, as well as managing stress, can help people with Alzheimers disease. Education and professional support are important for people with Alzheimers disease and their families and carers.
Why Don ‘t More People Know About This Deadly Disease
endured. Bud forgot her too. He forgot everyone. Alzheimer ‘s is terrifying. The slightly confused smile as well as the listlessness exhibited in your loved ones eyes as you introduce yourself, and tell them where they know you from. That moment when you realize they truly dont remember. Terrifying. My question is this: Why dont more people know about this deadly disease? Why is there not more funding pouring in from around the nation? After all, a disease that claims the lives of about 1,920 people
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Each Persons Journey Is Different
Each person has a unique health history. This health history is directly related to how AD will affect them. Its helpful, however, to know the statistics about average life expectancy, as well as how lifestyle and age can alter that length of time.
If you are a caretaker or were recently diagnosed with AD, you can find empowerment and courage in knowing how the condition tends to progress. This allows you to plan with your family and caretakers.
Can You Prevent Alzheimers Disease
There is no sure way to prevent Alzheimers disease. However, you can reduce the risk of Alzheimers disease by caring for your health:
- your heart whats good for your heart is good for your brain so stick to a healthy diet and dont smoke
- your body regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain so maintain an active lifestyle
- your mind an active mind helps build brain cells and strengthens their connections so socialise, do things such as puzzles and crosswords, and learn new things, such as a language
Learn more about the risk factors associated with Alzheimers and other types of dementia, and what you can do to reduce your risk:
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Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
People with Alzheimers disease differ in the patterns of problems they experience and in the speed with which their abilities deteriorate. Their abilities may change from day to day, or even within the same day. What is certain is that the persons abilities will deteriorate sometimes rapidly over a few months, sometimes more slowly, over a number of years.Some of the features of Alzheimers disease are classified into three stages. It is important to remember that not all of these features will be present in every person, nor will every person go through every stage. But these stages are still a useful description of the progression of Alzheimers disease.At all stages of Alzheimers disease, treatments and support services are available. Use these to make sure of the best possible quality of life for everyone affected by Alzheimers disease.
The Disease Of Alzheimer ‘s Disease
engulfed by a mysterious disease. The neurons being cut off and destroyed by two abnormal structures. First memory is affected gradually getting worse. Then one is unable to think properly, reason, and lacks of self control. Gaps are formed in the brain ‘s ventricles, due to the amount of dead tissue. In the end, it will lead to death. All of this may sound like something from a science fiction movie but infact its very real. These are all known possible symptoms of a common disease that affects about
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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.
Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease typically starts slowly and the symptoms can be very subtle in the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more noticeable and interfere with daily life. The disease affects each person differently and the symptoms vary.Common symptoms include:
- persistent and frequent memory loss, especially of recent events
- vagueness in everyday conversation
- being less able to plan, problem-solve, organise and think logically
- language difficulties such as finding the right word and understanding conversations
- apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- taking longer to do routine tasks
- becoming disoriented, even in well-known places
- inability to process questions and instructions
- deterioration of social skills
- emotional unpredictability
- changes in behaviour, personality and mood.
Symptoms vary as the disease progresses and different areas of the brain are affected. A persons abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, and can become worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill health.The stages of Alzheimers disease progress from mild Alzheimers disease to moderate Alzheimers disease and then severe Alzheimers disease. During severe Alzheimers disease, people need continuous care. The rate of progression between these stages differs between people.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
Theyll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Theres no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties.
Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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What Is Known About Alzheimers Disease
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease. There likely is not a single cause but rather several factors that can affect each person differently.
- Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.
- Family historyresearchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimers disease. However, genes do not equal destiny. A healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Two large, long term studies indicate that adequate physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking may help people. To learn more about the study, you can listen to a short podcast.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimers disease.
- There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline. Heres 8 ways.
What Does Age Have To Do With It
The age you are diagnosed with AD may have the greatest impact on your life expectancy. The earlier you are diagnosed, the longer you may live. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have discovered that the average survival time for people diagnosed at age 65 is 8.3 years. The average life expectancy for people diagnosed at age 90 is 3.4 years.
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Can You Die From Dementia And How Does It Kill You
Medically Reviewed By: Lisa Cooper
Many people worry about developing dementia one day. However, experts say there are things you can do to by more than 30 percent. In this article, we’ll cover some of the easy lifestyle changes you can make to improve your odds of staying healthy.
If you have dementia, you may be wondering what it might mean for your long-term health. Know that it’s not the type of disorder that can shorten your life expectancy, but it may make you more susceptible to contracting certain illnesses. We’ll talk about that in more detail later on, and we’ll share some suggestions to ease your fears and worries.
What Will Cause Death?
For many, dementia is unfathomable. It’s scary to think about losing memories and the ability to function normally. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, know someone who has, or are just curious about the subject, you may wonder how a person with dementia dies.
It’s possible that you could die from complications of dementia, but you’re unlikely to die from the disease itself. For example, dementia could damage your brain over time to the point that you lose the ability to breathe and therefore die. However, for many patients, this is not the case.
Even though there are around 50 million people worldwide who have dementia, you’re not destined to get it. There are billions of people who don’t have it and who will never get it.
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care Tel. 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
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