What Is Known About Reducing Your Risk Of Alzheimers Disease
The science on risk reduction is quickly evolving, and major breakthroughs are within reach. For example, there is growing evidence that people who adopt healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and blood pressure management can lower their risk of dementia. 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. To learn more about the current state of evidence on dementia risk factors and the implications for public health, please read the following summaries on Cardiovascular Health, Exercise, Diabetes and Obesity, Traumatic Brain Injury , Tobacco and Alcohol, Diet and Nutrition, Sleep, Sensory Impairment, and Social Engagement or the Compiled Report .
Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that involve a loss of cognitive functioning.
Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. It involves plaques and tangles forming in the brain. Symptoms start gradually and are most likely to include a decline in cognitive function and language ability.
To receive a diagnosis of Alzheimers, a person will be experiencing memory loss, cognitive decline, or behavioral changes that are affecting their ability to function in their daily life.
Friends and family may notice the symptoms of dementia before the person themselves.
There is no single test for Alzheimers disease. If a doctor suspects the presence of the condition, they will ask the person and sometimes their family or caregivers about their symptoms, experiences, and medical history.
The doctor may also carry out the following tests:
- cognitive and memory tests, to assess the persons ability to think and remember
- neurological function tests, to test their balance, senses, and reflexes
- blood or urine tests
- a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain
- genetic testing
A number of assessment tools are available to assess cognitive function.
In some cases, genetic testing may be appropriate, as the symptoms of dementia can be related to an inherited condition such as Huntingtons disease.
Some forms of the APOE e4 gene are associated with a higher chance of developing Alzheimers disease.
What Happens To A Persons Brain And Body As Dementia Gets Worse
Unfortunately, many types of dementia are conditions that worsen over time. When your brain doesnt get the nutrients and oxygen it needs, or junk blocks needed communication between the nerve cells of the brain, your brain tissue begins to die.
Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia usually begin with memory loss or lapses in judgment things that can be lived with for a while. As you lose more and more brain function, functions vital to life begin to be affected. Vital functions include breathing, digestion, heart rate and sleep.
In the late stages of dementia, people cant perform the tasks needed to keep their bodies alive. Brain damage and muscle weakness no longer allow even simple, needed movements. You cant communicate, walk, talk, control your bladder or bowels, feed yourself, or chew or swallow food without help.
When you cant care for yourself, move about, eat or drink enough to keep yourself hydrated and nourished, plus have mental decline, you leave yourself vulnerable to other illnesses. Pneumonia is one of these commonly seen illnesses in people with dementia. With a now frail body, a person may not be able to fight infections or even benefit from medication. The persons pain and discomfort may outweigh treatment options that can only offer a short-term benefit.
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Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Sexual Differences In Incidence
Some studies have reported a higher risk of AD in women than in men other studies, however, including the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study, found no difference in risk between men and women. Almost two thirds of Americans with AD are women. Among AD patients overall, any sexual disparity may simply reflect womens higher life expectancy. Among those who are heterozygous for the APOE E4 allele, however, Payami et al found a twofold increased risk in women.
Caring For Someone With Alzheimers Disease
Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease can be hard but also rewarding. Your emotional and physical support will be a great help when the person’s world seems confusing and hostile. Take advantage of the community support thats available for people with Alzheimers disease, their families and carers.
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.
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Getting The Help You Need
People with Alzheimers disease require assistance with daily activities like hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and general administrative tasks. This can feel overwhelming for loved ones. Because Alzheimers disease continues to progress, its important to find well-trained, experienced caregivers to help improve the quality of life for you or a loved one suffering from Alzheimers. Whether daily, weekly, or for times respite, you need an in-home caregiver you can trust. Contact your local ameriCARE today to learn more about our in-home caregivers and connect with someone who will provide dignified, respectful care when you need it.
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Injuries Due To Falls
Balance and coordination might be affected by Alzheimers disease as well. As the condition progresses, the person is at an increased risk of falling. This can result in injuries.
If your loved one is experiencing a decline in their balance, it would be beneficial to discuss with the doctor the benefits of a physical therapist evaluation to further assess and recommend any beneficial equipment. Also, ensuring sure the pathways in their house are free of obstacles and clutter can decrease the likelihood that they will get an injury from falling.
Also, a medical alert device is a great option for a loved one who lives alone so that if they have a fall and are unable to get to a phone, they will still be able to contact emergency services.
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Does Alzheimer’s Make The Brain More Susceptible To Infection
The blood-brain barrier protects the brain by controlling what substances can pass from the blood into brain tissue. In Alzheimer’s disease, the blood-brain barrier is damaged, particularly in the brain region affected by Alzheimer’s.
Evidence suggests that inflammation, the Alzheimer’s hallmark amyloid protein and the ApoE4 gene, which are all linked to Alzheimer’s disease, can contribute to the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. Once it has been weakened, bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances can get through into the brain more easily. This may explain why certain viruses and bacteria, such as herpes and spirochetes, are more common in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia
Risk factors for dementia include:
- Age: This is the strongest risk factor. Your chance of dementia increases as you age. Most cases affect people over the age of 65.
- Family history: If you have biological parents or siblings with dementia, youre more likely to develop dementia.
- Down syndrome: If you have Down syndrome, youre at risk of developing early-onset Alzheimers disease by middle age.
- Poor heart health: If you have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis or smoke, you increase your risk of dementia. These health problems, as well as diabetes, affect your blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels can lead to reduced blood flow and strokes.
- Race and ethnicity: If youre a Black person, you have twice the risk as a white person for developing dementia. If youre a Hispanic person, youre 1.5 times more likely than a white person to develop dementia.
- Brain injury: If youve had a severe brain injury, youre at a higher risk for dementia.
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Cholinergic Neurotransmission And Alzheimer Disease
The cholinergic system is involved in memory function, and cholinergic deficiency has been implicated in the cognitive decline and behavioral changes of AD. Activity of the synthetic enzyme choline acetyltransferase and the catabolic enzyme acetylcholinesterase are significantly reduced in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala in patients with AD.
The nucleus basalis of Meynert and diagonal band of Broca provide the main cholinergic input to the hippocampus, amygdala, and neocortex, which are lost in patients with AD. Loss of cortical CAT and decline in acetylcholine synthesis in biopsy specimens have been found to correlate with cognitive impairment and reaction-time performance. Because cholinergic dysfunction may contribute to the symptoms of patients with AD, enhancing cholinergic neurotransmission constitutes a rational basis for symptomatic treatment.
Aluminum In The Environment
Aluminum has a non-metallic form that makes up eight per cent of the earth’s surface. In small amounts, aluminum is referred to as “trace elements”, and occur naturally in the foods we eat, in our drinking water and are even added to the water treatment process in some municipalities.
Trace elements of aluminum may also be found in:
- Many processed foods
- Cosmetics and personal hygiene products, such as deodorants and nasal sprays
- Some drugs in order to make them more effective or less irritating
- The air we breathe from dry soil, cigarette smoke, pesticide sprays and aluminum-based paint.
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How Common Is Dementia
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 5 million U.S. adults age 65 or older have Alzheimers and related dementia. By 2060, the CDC projects that about 14 million people will have dementia, which is about 3.3% of the population.
Alzheimers disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death in Americans age 65 and older.
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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Complications Associated With Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease has many side effects and complications that can present problems for the patient and their caregivers. It is important for all caregivers to be aware of these conditions to minimize problems.
People with Alzheimers disease may have trouble swallowing food or liquids. This can lead to pneumonia in the later stages of the disease. This can happen because the patient is not able to communicate pain and discomfort to the caregiver.
The most effective treatment for pneumonia is to use antibiotics and other drugs that are prescribed by a doctor. Pneumonia can be particularly dangerous with Alzheimers patients, so caregivers should make sure that their loved one does not have pneumonia.
Urinary Tract Infection
A UTI is another common complication of which caregivers should be aware. They are particularly frequent in the mid to late stages of the disease, as incontinence becomes more of an issue. So, many people who have the disease must use a catheter. These often are needed, but they can bring bacteria into the body and cause a UTI.
Some of the common symptoms of a UTI include dark colored urine, a strong odor to the urine and more frequent urination. The patient may not be able to describe his discomfort to the caregiver, so you should be aware of this.
Injuries Due to Falls
Emotion And Behavior Treatments
The emotional and behavioral changes linked with Alzheimers disease can be challenging to manage. People may increasingly experience irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep problems, and other difficulties.
Treating the underlying causes of these changes can be helpful. Some may be side effects of medications, discomfort from other medical conditions, or problems with hearing or vision.
Identifying what triggered these behaviors and avoiding or changing these things can help people deal with the changes. Triggers may include changing environments, new caregivers, or being asked to bathe or change clothes.
It is often possible to change the environment to resolve obstacles and boost the persons comfort, security, and peace of mind.
The Alzheimers Association offer a list of helpful coping tips for caregivers.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend medications for these symptoms, such as:
- antidepressants, for low mood
develops due to the death of brain cells. It is a neurodegenerative condition, which means that the brain cell death happens over time.
In a person with Alzheimers, the brain tissue has fewer and fewer nerve cells and connections, and tiny deposits, known as plaques and tangles, build up on the nerve tissue.
Plaques develop between the dying brain cells. They are made from a protein known as beta-amyloid. The tangles, meanwhile, occur within the nerve cells. They are made from another protein, called tau.
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Common Complications Of Alzheimers Disease That Cause Death
A lack of self-awareness and self-care, prolonged confinement to a bed, feeding failure, inability to receive proper nutrition and dehydration are all factors in the development of other life-threatening health conditions in dementia patients. While brain damage associated with AD is the driving force behind the patients cognitive decline and incapacitation, these secondary illnesses and conditions are ultimately responsible for causing the patients physical decline and death.
Complications of Alzheimers disease are commonly cited as such on death certificates. Because of this, deaths with a primary cause of AD and related dementias are seriously underreported. This is especially true since dementia can go unnoticed as it progresses slowly over the course of many years. Furthermore, a significant number of patients never receive an official neurological diagnosis while alive or after they have died.
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.
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What’s The Life Expectancy Of A Person With Dementia
Theres no easy way to answer this question. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers the many different types of underlying neurodegenerative diseases.
Each type of neurodegenerative disease has its own unique pattern and development in each person. Also, each person has a unique health profile. Some people may be relatively healthy and others may have several co-existing health issues. All of these factors play a role in the pace of decline in a person with dementia.
To answer more broadly, Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia. The average lifespan after the earliest symptoms is eight years. However, some people have lived as long as 20 years after an Alzheimers disease diagnosis.
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
Watch For Signs The Person Is In Pain
Always remember that the person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to tell you when he or she is in pain. Watch the person’s face to see if it looks like he or she is in pain or feeling ill. Also, notice sudden changes in behavior such as increased yelling or striking out. If you are unsure what to do, call the doctor for help.
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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