Medicines For Memory Problems
- Cholinesterase inhibitors treat symptoms of mental decline in people who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They include donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine. Donepezil can be used to help those who have severe Alzheimer’s disease.
- Memantine treats more severe symptoms of confusion and memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease.
Because these medicines work differently, they are sometimes used together .
These medicines may temporarily help improve memory and daily functioning in some people who have Alzheimer’s disease. The improvement varies from person to person. These medicines don’t prevent the disease from getting worse. But they may slow down symptoms of mental decline.
The main decision about using these usually isn’t whether to try a medicine but when to begin and stop treatment. Treatment can be started as soon as Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed. If the medicines are effective, they are continued until the side effects outweigh the benefits or until the person no longer responds to the medicines.
How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your past health and do a physical exam. He or she may ask you to do some simple things that test your memory and other mental skills. Your doctor may also check how well you can do daily tasks.
The exam usually includes blood tests to look for another cause of your problems. You may have tests such as CT scans and MRI scans, which look at your brain. By themselves, these tests can’t show for sure whether you have Alzheimer’s.
What Ends Up In The Shopping Cart
For several years, Wallin and her research colleague Kerstin Gidlöf, holder of a PhD in cognitive science from Lund University and expert in consumer behaviour, have investigated how we take decisions in real environments, especially in ordinary grocery shops.
They equipped shoppers with not particularly flattering glasses that register their eye movements as they go about their ordinary shopping round. What did customers look at and what ended up in their shopping carts?
The study examined not only how the products were displayed on the shelves or what colour or shape they were, but the customers own preferences as well. How much of a role does price play in my choice of products? Is it important to me that the product has a low sugar content or originates from a particular country?
When we enter the supermarket after a long workday, our steps are very much governed by the purpose of our visit. However hard the store tries to capture your attention with appealing products or large shelves full of the same type of goods, this competes with our own evaluation of the product.
The wide shelf of coffee and tea products displays an incalculable number of packages. Am I attracted by the sleek design on a packet of coffee, the pricey organic tea from Sri Lanka or the special offer on a coffee brand from Gävle?
Recommended Reading: Dementia Paranoia Accusations
Are There Medicines To Treat Ad
Though there is no cure for AD yet, there are medications that help manage the symptoms. There are two general types of medications used to treat AD, the cholinesterase inhibitors and one NMDA receptor antagonist . These medications can help improve cognition, but they do not reverse or slow down the disease process in the brain. Often times, people with AD can have mood changes, such as depression or irritability. These can be managed by medications like the ones used for depression or anxiety.
More Information About Alzheimer Disease
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
Alzheimer’s Association: This web site provides information about Alzheimer disease, including statistics, causes, risk factors, and symptoms. It also provides resources for support, including information about daily care of people with Alzheimer disease, care for the caregiver, and support groups.
The Alzheimer’s Society: This web site provides a guide to dementia , a guide for caregivers, and information about types of dementia, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, risk factors, and prevention.
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Alzheimer’s Disease Information Page: This web site defines Alzheimer disease and provides information about treatment, prognosis, and available clinical trials and links to other organizations focused on Alzheimer disease.
Recommended Reading: Will Meredith Get Alzheimer’s
What Is Alzheimers 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. Abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain, and once-healthy neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die.
The damage initially appears to take place in the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential in forming memories. As more neurons die, additional parts of the brain are affected, and they begin to shrink. By the final stage of Alzheimers, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly. Read more about what happens to the brain in Alzheimers »
What Other Things Help
In addition to medications, there are various ways to help a person with AD. Research has shown that physical exercise helps to enhance brain health and improves mood and general fitness. A balanced diet, enough sleep, and limited alcohol intake are other important ways to promote good brain health. Other illnesses that affect the brain, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, should also be treated if present.
Don’t Miss: Ribbon For Dementia
What Happens In Ad
For many people, the first sign of AD is a change in memory, but others may have changes in mood, language or thinking skills. For example, some people with AD may have trouble remembering to pay the bills or organizing tasks at work. Others may have more trouble with planning, difficulty talking or getting lost in familiar environments. AD can also affect a persons mood, and people with AD may become depressed, anxious, paranoid or irritable. The early symptomatic stage of AD is called mild cognitive impairment .
People with AD gradually need more help from others to complete their daily tasks. They may need help paying their bills, shopping, taking their medications or remembering appointments. Late in the disease, people may need help with bathing and dressing.
AD is a disease that changes with time. A person with AD can live many years with the disease. Research suggests that a person with AD may live from eight to 20 years or more, although this can vary from person to person.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Doctors use several methods and tools to help determine whether a person who is having memory problems has Alzheimers disease.
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 support an Alzheimers diagnosis or 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.
People with memory and thinking concerns should talk to their doctor to find out whether their symptoms are due to Alzheimers or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or another type of dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
In addition, an early diagnosis provides people with more opportunities to participate in clinical trials or other research studies testing possible new treatments for Alzheimers.
Don’t Miss: Does Meredith Grey Get Alzheimer’s
More Details About The Lobes Of The Brain
The temporal lobes are on either side of the brain, nearest to the ears. Their main roles involve memory processing, hearing and language.
Both temporal lobes store general knowledge. General knowledge is different from the types of memory that relate to day-to-day experiences. The left temporal lobe helps to understand language, and usually stores facts and the meanings of words. The right temporal lobe deals with visual information, such as recognising familiar objects and faces.
Within each temporal lobe is a region called the hippocampus, which processes memories to allow them to be stored and found when needed. Damage to the hippocampus makes it difficult to learn new things. The hippocampus also sends important information to be stored in other parts of the cerebral cortex. It is important for memory of events and experiences .
The temporal lobes also help to understand what is being heard. Damage to the temporal lobes, particularly to an area called the auditory cortex, can make it more difficult for the hippocampus to form memories of what has just been heard.
Alzheimers disease often starts in and around the hippocampus, before it spreads to other parts of the brain. This is why one of the first symptoms many people notice is memory loss.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Brain Changes Symptoms And Treatment
ByCari Nierenberg19 June 2019
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior in older adults. The disorder affects an estimated 5.7 million Americans, and is the fifth-leading cause of death in people ages 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Alzheimer’s disease is often used as a synonym for dementia, which is a devastating loss of memory and cognitive function in older people, said Dr. Brad Hyman, a neurologist and director of the Massachusetts Disease Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dementia is an umbrella term for impaired memory thinking skills, and Alzheimer’s is a specific form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 50-70% of all dementia cases, according to Alzheimers.net.
The first case of Alzheimer’s was described in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German neurologist. Alzheimer identified two of the disease’s key physical traits when he examined a woman’s brain tissue under a microscope after her death: He found abnormal protein clumps and tangled bundles of nerve fibers .
Also Check: Does Andrea Mitchell Have Dementia
Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Behavior
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Scientists are learning why these symptoms occur and are studying new treatments drug and nondrug to manage them. Research has shown that treating behavioral symptoms can make people with Alzheimers more comfortable and makes things easier for caregivers.
How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed And Evaluated
No single test can determine whether a person has Alzheimer’s disease. A diagnosis is made by determining the presence of certain symptoms and ruling out other causes of dementia. This involves a careful medical evaluation, including a thorough medical history, mental status testing, a physical and neurological exam, blood tests and brain imaging exams, including:
Read Also: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Alzheimers is complex, and it is therefore unlikely that any one drug or other intervention will successfully treat it in all people living with the disease.
Scientists are exploring many avenues to delay or prevent the disease as well as to treat its symptoms. In ongoing clinical trials, scientists are developing and testing several possible interventions. Under study are drug therapies aimed at a variety of disease interventions, as well as nondrug approaches such as physical activity, diet, cognitive training, and combinations of these. Just as we have many treatments for heart disease and cancer, we will likely need many options for treating Alzheimers. Precision medicine getting the right treatment to the right person at the right time will likely play a major role.
Current approaches to treating Alzheimers focus on helping people maintain mental function, treating the underlying disease process, and managing behavioral symptoms.
What Causes Alzheimers Disease
In recent years, scientists have made tremendous progress in better understanding Alzheimers and the momentum continues to grow. Still, scientists dont yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimers, a genetic mutation may be the cause. Late-onset Alzheimers arises from a complex series of brain changes that may 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.
Also Check: Does Meredith Get Alzheimer’s
What To Expect In The Late Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
What To Expect In The Late Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
As Alzheimers advances into the later stages, caregivers and family members can expect quite a few new symptoms of the disease. Fortunately, being prepared now can help people better cope with the challenges of the late stages of Alzheimers.
Although the disease doesnt affect every person the same way, informed caregivers can often reduce later stage crisis. Read our list of the symptoms to expect in the late stages of Alzheimers to better prepare for tomorrow, today.
Which Method Is Best
Our study shows that the presence of beta-amyloid in the brain and changes in concentrations of beta-amyloid and tau in the spinal fluid can be detected early in the course of the disease, but they do not seem to have any correlation with later memory loss. In contrast, the presence of tau in the brain measured by PET turned out to be linked to a rapid decline of episodic memory the memory of everyday events.
Episodic memory is often affected at an early stage of the disease, and our study suggests that looking for tau using PET scans is the best way to predict early stage Alzheimers.
Our results are based on brain imaging and spinal fluid analyses in a group of 282 participants comprising people with mild cognitive impairment, people with Alzheimers disease and healthy people .
Among these, 213 participants were also monitored for three years with tests of short-term memory related to daily events. PET scans showed that 16% of the participants had a buildup of tau. This was associated with them having more rapid memory decline than participants without tau accumulation, regardless of the beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain.
Tau accumulation in the brain was also more accurate than tau measured in spinal fluid at detecting a short-term memory decline. In other words, the tau spinal fluid test was negative in some cases, while the tau PET scan was positive for the same subject. This confirms that lumbar puncture and imaging methods are not always comparable.
Don’t Miss: Stages Of Vascular Dementia Life Expectancy
What Happens To The Brain In Alzheimer’s Disease
The healthy human brain contains tens of billions of neuronsspecialized cells that process and transmit information via electrical and chemical signals. They send messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to the muscles and organs of the body. Alzheimers disease disrupts this communication among neurons, resulting in loss of function and cell death.
Late Stages Of Alzheimers Disease Symptoms
The needs of the person with Alzheimers become much more demanding as the disease progresses. In the late stages of Alzheimers, the person with the disease loses the ability to respond appropriately and is unable to converse with others. They will also develop an inability to control movements like sitting, standing and walking.
Here are some other common symptoms of the disease that can occur:
- Catches colds and infections easily
- Day/night reversal of sleep pattern
- Difficulty communicating
- Difficulty using the toilet independently
- Eventually requires help with activities of daily living, 24 hours per day
- Eventually unable to walk
- Hoarding, rummaging
- Inability to sit and eventually to swallow
- Loss of awareness of surroundings
- Needs help walking
- Needs progressively more help with personal care
- Personality changes such as aggression, anxiety, hostility, irritability or uncooperativeness
- Repetitive questioning
- Verbally aggressive or demanding behavior
Also Check: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
The Brain And Body Connection
Though the cause of Alzheimerâs is not known, doctors think the symptoms of the disease are caused by a buildup of harmful proteins in your brain called amyloid and tau. These proteins form large clumps, called tangles and plaques. They get in the way of normal brain function and kill healthy cells.
The damage usually starts in the area of your brain that forms memories. People with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease often have trouble remembering things. As the disease gets worse, the plaques and clusters also appear in the parts of the brain in charge of bodily behaviors.
Everyday activities like walking, eating, going to the bathroom, and talking become harder.
The effects of the disease will differ for each person as it gets worse. The pace can be slow. Some people live up to 20 years after a diagnosis. The average life expectancy, though, is 4 to 8 years.
Mapping The Brain Circuitry Of Spirituality
From our previous research, we now have a large amount of data and many components that can be combined. Every time you look at something in the store, we have a data point in our experiments regarding human behaviour on site. We are interested in the interaction between internal and external factors.
The researchers hope that this complex and unique experiment data will show whether certain factors determine what happens inside the brain when a decision is taken, which would then enable them to conduct follow-up investigations.
The visual clutter in a shop has not previously been linked to evaluations and decision-making. This research is an important puzzle piece in the process of understanding that decisions arent taken in a vacuum but in complex environments, explains Annika Wallin.
She has long been interested in our everyday decisions that are frequently taken and therefore well-practised she believes they are an important key to analysing how people think about decisions and decision-making.
As researchers, we need to develop the intersection between the internal and external factors that underpin a choice. What actually happens when you are going to buy pasta, what happens to the physician meeting a patient, how do we take in facts about Covid-19? Humans are complex beings and there is a lot around us that affects us as individuals. I want to increase my understanding of that dynamic.
Recommended Reading: Does Bobby Knight Have Dementia