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What Happens When You Get Alzheimer’s Disease

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment

What Happens When You Have Alzheimer’s Disease

Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.

Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:

  • memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
  • increasing confusion
  • apathy and withdrawal or depression
  • loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.

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.

Also Check: Alzheimers Dement

Medications To Treat The Underlying Alzheimer’s Disease Process

Aducanumab is the first disease-modifying therapy approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimers disease. The medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits in the brain and may help slow the progression of Alzheimers, although it has not yet been shown to affect clinical outcomes such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia. A doctor or specialist will likely perform tests, such as a PET scan or analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, to look for evidence of amyloid plaques and help decide if the treatment is right for the patient.

Aducanumab was approved through the FDAs Accelerated Approval Program. This process requires an additional study after approval to confirm the anticipated clinical benefit. If the follow-up trial fails to verify clinical benefit, the FDA may withdraw approval of the drug. Results of the phase 4 clinical trial for aducanumab are expected to be available by early 2030.

Several other disease-modifying medications are being tested in people with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimers as potential treatments.

Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment

Why and How Alzheimers Progresses  Renee Harmon

This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:

  • Forgetting where one has placed an object
  • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.

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Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors

Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimers. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimers.

A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimers. Researchers are testing some of these possibilities in clinical trials.

When Should You Call Your Doctor

Alzheimer’s disease tends to develop slowly over time. If confusion and other changes in mental abilities come on suddenly, within hours or days, the problem may be delirium. Delirium needs treatment right away.

Seek care now if:

  • Symptoms such as a shortened attention span, memory problems, or seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there develop suddenly over hours to days.
  • A person who has Alzheimer’s disease has a sudden, significant change in normal behavior or if symptoms suddenly get worse.
  • Symptoms such as a shortened attention span, memory problems, or false beliefs develop gradually over a few weeks or months.
  • Memory loss and other symptoms start to interfere with the person’s work or social life or could cause injury or harm to the person.
  • You need help caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read Also: Senile Dementia Treatments

Stage : Moderately Severe Decline

Your loved one might start to lose track of where they are and what time it is. They might have trouble remembering their address, phone number, or where they went to school. They could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season.

You can help by laying out their clothing in the morning. It can help them dress by themselves and keep a sense of independence.

If they repeat the same question, answer with an even, reassuring voice. They might be asking the question less to get an answer and more to just know you’re there.

Even if your loved one can’t remember facts and details, they might still be able to tell a story. Invite them to use their imagination at those times.

What Are The Stages Of Alzheimers

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimers disease slowly gets worse over time. People with this disease progress at different rates and in several stages. Symptoms may get worse and then improve, but until an effective treatment for the disease itself is found, the persons ability will continue to decline over the course of the disease.

Early-stage Alzheimers is when a person begins to experience memory loss and other cognitive difficulties, though the symptoms appear gradual to the person and their family. Alzheimers disease is often diagnosed at this stage.

During middle-stage Alzheimers, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. People at this stage may have more confusion and trouble recognizing family and friends.

In late-stage Alzheimers, a person cannot communicate, is completely dependent on others for care, and may be in bed most or all the time as the body shuts down.

How long a person can live with Alzheimers disease varies. A person may live as few as three or four years if he or she is older than 80 when diagnosed, to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Older adults with Alzheimers disease need to know their end-of-life care options and express their wishes to caregivers as early as possible after a diagnosis, before their thinking and speaking abilities fail.

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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.

Early symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from work and social situations

  • Changes in mood and personality

Later symptoms:

  • 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

What Newer Medications Are Under Study

All currently approved medications target Alzheimers disease after it develops. Scientists are currently researching ways to stop or slow the progress of Alzheimers disease before it starts.

Some of the drugs in late-stage investigation are called monoclonal antibodies. These drugs target the amyloid protein that builds up in brain cells. They work by attaching to the amyloid proteins as they float in the brain and remove them, before they form into the plaques and tangles that interfere with the brains ability to properly function.

These drugs are still in clinical trials and are several years away from Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States. Early results have been mixed, with some trials showing no improvement in brain function others showing a slight improvement . Despite the mixed results, researchers are excited about this new potential method to modify the disease process.

Read Also: Pathophysiology Of Dementia Disease

Young Onset Vs Early Stage

It’s important to know that term “young onset dementia” does not mean the early stage of dementia. While most people diagnosed with young onset dementia are likely experiencing mild symptoms that indicate they are in the early stage, “young onset” and “early stage” have different meanings. A 57-year-old living with young onset dementia could already be in the late stage, while a 80-year-old just diagnosed with dementia might be in the early stage.

It’s also important to note that young onset dementia encompasses all types of dementia. If a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease â the most common type of dementia âunder the age of 65, then that person can be said to have young onset Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise, if a person is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia under 65, then that person has young onset frontotemporal dementia.

However, each person living with young onset dementia has their own preferred term to describe their dementia â ask them what they prefer!

How Does Alzheimers Disease Affect The Brain

Alzheimers: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment &  Care ...

The brain typically shrinks to some degree in healthy aging but, surprisingly, does not lose neurons in large numbers. In Alzheimers disease, however, damage is widespread, as many neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die. Alzheimers disrupts processes vital to neurons and their networks, including communication, metabolism, and repair.

At first, Alzheimers disease typically destroys neurons and their connections in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behavior. Eventually, many other areas of the brain are damaged. Over time, a person with Alzheimers gradually loses his or her ability to live and function independently. Ultimately, the disease is fatal.

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How Common Is Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia . Alzheimers disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

One in 10 people older than 65 and nearly half of people older than 85 have Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers disease can also affect people in their 40s. The percentage of people who have Alzheimers disease rises every decade beyond the age of 60. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, with the aging of the population and without successful treatment, there will be 14 million Americans and 106 million people worldwide with Alzheimers disease by 2050.

Stage : Moderate Decline

During this period, the problems in thinking and reasoning that you noticed in stage 3 get more obvious, and new issues appear. Your friend or family member might:

  • Forget details about themselves
  • Have trouble putting the right date and amount on a check
  • Forget what month or season it is
  • Have trouble cooking meals or even ordering from a menu
  • Struggle to use the telephone
  • Not understand what is said to them
  • Struggle to do tasks with multiple steps like cleaning the house.

You can help with everyday chores and their safety. Make sure they aren’t driving anymore, and that no one tries to take advantage of them financially.

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A Person With Dementia Doesnt Always Fit Into One Stage

Dementia affects each person in a unique way and changes different parts of the brain at different points in the disease progression.

Plus, different types of dementia tend to have different symptoms.

For example, someone with frontotemporal dementia may first show extreme behavior and personality changes. But someone with Alzheimers disease would first experience short-term memory loss and struggle with everyday tasks.

Researchers and doctors still dont know enough about how these diseases work to predict exactly what will happen.

Another common occurrence is for someone in the middle stages of dementia to suddenly have a clear moment, hour, or day and seem like theyre back to their pre-dementia abilities. They could be sharp for a little while and later, go back to having obvious cognitive impairment.

When this happens, some families may feel like their older adult is faking their symptoms or just isnt trying hard enough.

Its important to know that this isnt true, its truly the dementia thats causing their declining abilities as well as those strange moments of clarity theyre truly not doing it on purpose.

Late Stages Of Alzheimers Disease Symptoms

What is Alzheimers Disease?

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
  • Incontinence
  • 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
  • Sundowners
  • Verbally aggressive or demanding behavior
  • Wandering

Read Also: How Long Does A Person Live After Being Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

Support For Family And Friends

Currently, many people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for at home by family members. Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.

Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimers disease at home can be a difficult task and may become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimers disease often need more intensive care.

You can find more information about caring for yourself and access a helpful care planning form.

Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors That May Contribute To Alzheimer’s Disease

Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, sleep, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials are testing some of these possibilities.

Early-life factors may also play a role. For example, studies have linked higher levels of education with a decreased risk of dementia. There are also differences in dementia risk among racial groups and sexesall of which are being studied to better understand the causes of Alzheimers disease and to develop effective treatments and preventions for all people.

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What Is Alzheimer’s & What Happens When You Get Alzheimer’s Disease

By | Submitted On January 12, 2010

What is Alzheimer’s and what happens when you get it Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. Scientists have learned a great deal about Alzheimer’s disease in the century since Dr. Alzheimer first drew attention to it. Today we know that Alzheimer’s Is a common and serious brain disease.More than 5 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s. Although symptoms can vary widely, the first problem many people notice is chronic memory loss.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that destroys brain cells, hampers communication between neurons and seriously impairs a person’s ability to function. Memory, language and thought are particularly affected. Symptoms include asking the same question over and over and getting lost in familiar places. The chances of Alzheimer’s increases steadily after age 65, but it is not the mild memory decline associated with normal aging. It is a degenerative brain disease.

Alzheimer’s disease has become a household term over the past decade. Nowadays, it seems, everyone knows someone who has Alzheimer’s.The disease, which is marked by progressive loss of memory, affects about 9 percent of Americans over 65. Nationwide, there are some 5 million victims in New Jersey, there are more than 180,000 people with some form of dementia, the majority of whom have Alzheimer’s.

What Causes Alzheimers Disease

A World Without Alzheimer

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.

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