The Brain And Alzheimer’s Disease
When a person has Alzheimerâs, their brain changes. It has fewer healthy cells, and it gets smaller over time. Most of the time, the brain cells also form two types of flaws:
- Neurofibrillary tangles. These are twisted fibers inside brain cells that keep nutrients and other important things from moving from one part of the cell to another
- Beta-amyloid plaques. These are sticky clumps of proteins that build up between nerve cells instead of breaking down like they do in healthy brains.
Plaques and tangles damage the healthy brain cells around them. The damaged cells die, and the brain shrinks. These changes cause the symptoms of Alzheimerâs, such as memory loss, speech problems, confusion, and mood swings.
Brain cells affected by the disease also make lower amounts of the chemicals called neurotransmitters that nerves use to send messages to each other.
Scientists don’t know if these brain cell changes cause Alzheimerâs or happen because of it.
Active Management Of Alzheimer’s Dementia
- Appropriate use of available treatment options.
- Effective management of coexisting conditions.
- Providing family caregivers with effective training in managing the day-to-day life of the care recipient.
- Coordination of care among physicians, other health care professionals and lay caregivers.
- Participation in activities that are meaningful to the individual with dementia and bring purpose to his or her life.
- Having opportunities to connect with others living with dementia support groups and supportive services are examples of such opportunities.
- Becoming educated about the disease.
- Planning for the future.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, as well as practical information for living with Alzheimer’s and being a caregiver, visit alz.org.
Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimers disease, this is not just a condition that affects older adults.
According to the Alzheimers Association, early onset Alzheimers disease affects around 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 years. Many people with this condition are in their 40s or 50s.
In many cases, doctors do not know why younger people develop this condition. Several rare genes can cause the condition. When there is a genetic cause, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.
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One In Three Alzheimer’s Cases Preventable Says Research
One in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide is preventable, according to research from the University of Cambridge.
The main risk factors for the disease are a lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, it says.
Previous research from 2011 put the estimate at one in two cases, but this new study takes into account overlapping risk factors.
Alzheimer’s Research UK said age was still the biggest risk factor.
Writing in The Lancet Neurology, the Cambridge team analysed population-based data to work out the main seven risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Low educational attainment
They worked out that a third of Alzheimer’s cases could be linked to lifestyle factors that could be modified, such as lack of exercise and smoking.
The researchers then looked at how reducing these factors could affect the number of future Alzheimer’s cases.
They found that by reducing each risk factor by 10%, nearly nine million cases of the disease could be prevented by 2050.
In the UK, a 10% reduction in risk factors would reduce cases by 8.8%, or 200,000, by 2050, they calculated.
Current estimates suggest that more than 106 million people worldwide will be living with Alzheimer’s by 2050 – more than three times the number affected in 2010.
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.
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Reducing Your Risk Factors
It is possible to evaluate your predisposition to develop Alzheimers disease and make lifestyle choices that reduce your risk factors. More and more evidence is emerging that proves environmental factors play a significant role in determining if the disease will develop and progress.
- Use the Internet to do research on genetic conditions. Some useful sites are:
- Medline Plus
Total Cost Of Health Care And Long
Table reports the average annual per-person payments for health care and long-term care services for Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older with and without Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Total per-person health care and long-term care payments in 2019 from all sources for Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or other dementias were over three times as great as payments for other Medicare beneficiaries in the same age group .,
|TOTAL* Payments from sources do not equal total payments exactly due to the effects of population weighting. Payments for all beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or other dementias include payments for community-dwelling and facility-dwelling beneficiaries.
- * Payments from sources do not equal total payments exactly due to the effects of population weighting. Payments for all beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or other dementias include payments for community-dwelling and facility-dwelling beneficiaries.
- Created from unpublished data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey for 2011.
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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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment . With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimers. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimers in a health care providers office.
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Medications To Maintain Mental Function In Alzheimer’s Disease
Several medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat symptoms of Alzheimers. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimers. Donepezil, memantine, the rivastigmine patch, and a combination medication of memantine and donepezil are used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimers symptoms. All of these drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. They may help reduce symptoms and help with certain behavioral problems. However, these drugs dont change the underlying disease process. They are effective for some but not all people and may help only for a limited time.
Use And Costs Of Health Care And Long
Among Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, black/African Americans had the highest Medicare payments per person per year, while whites had the lowest payments . The largest difference in payments was for hospital care, with black/African Americans incurring 1.7 times as much in hospital care costs as whites .
- Created from unpublished data from the National 5% Sample Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries for 2014.
In a study of Medicaid beneficiaries with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia that included both Medicaid and Medicare claims data, researchers found significant differences in the costs of care by race/ethnicity. These results demonstrated that black/African Americans had significantly higher costs of care than whites or Hispanics/Latinos, primarily due to more inpatient care and more comorbidities. These differences may be attributable to later-stage diagnosis, which may lead to higher levels of disability while receiving care delays in accessing timely primary care lack of care coordination duplication of services across providers or inequities in access to care. However, more research is needed to understand the reasons for this health care disparity.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Watch this video play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.
In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .
Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.
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What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Now that we’ve discussed the scientific definitions, let’s turn to the warning signs. According to the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 major early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s to watch out for, and they are as follows:
Dementia Affects The Person Diagnosed But Also Raises Fears For Siblings And Children Here Are The Facts
After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, families face fears and difficult medical decisions.
Alzheimer’s disease represents a personal health crisis, but it’s also a family concern. What does it mean for your children or siblings if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition?
“People think that if their dad or aunt or uncle had Alzheimer’s disease, they are doomed. But, no, that’s not true,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Even though family history adds to the overall risk, age still usually trumps it quite a bit. It means your risk is higher, but it’s not that much higher, if you consider the absolute numbers.”
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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
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.
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What To Do If You Suspect Alzheimers Disease
Getting checked by your healthcare provider can help determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to Alzheimers disease, or a more treatable conditions such as a vitamin deficiency or a side effect from medication. Early and accurate diagnosis also provides opportunities for you and your family to consider financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
Men Women And Dementia
In the UK, 61% of people with dementia are women. Why is this?
Well women live longer than men and as age is a risk factor for dementia, we would expect more women to be living with the condition. But some studies have suggested that women may also have a higher risk of dementia than men, particularly those in their 80s and older.
In Sundays Gender and Alzheimers session at the AAIC2016, it was clear that the jury is still out on whether women are more at risk than men. A 2016 meta-analysis pooling data from 22 studies reported an increase in risk for women but the researchers could not rule out that this observation was due to chance.
However, it was also clear from the session that risk factors for dementia are likely to affect men and women differently. And this is important to explore.
There could be a role for hormones such as oestrogen, which decreases in women with age. Dr Gillian Einstein from the University of Toronto showed that women who had their ovaries removed at an early age had a higher risk of dementia later in life. Structural and functional differences between the male and female brain could also influence diseases like Alzheimers and we know that the Alzheimers risk gene APOE4 confers a higher risk in women than men. We also heard evidence that the influence of midlife cardiovascular risk factors may be higher for women.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Developing Alzheimers
According to alzheimers.gov, folks with the below are more likely to get Alzheimers:
If someone is in all three of the above categories, they may be in the greatest risk, but alzheimers.gov goes on to say the below:
Being at higher risk for Alzheimers disease does not necessarily mean that you will develop the disease.
If your family member currently has Alzheimers and needs someone to care for them, our caregivers can help assist them in the comfort of their home. Please contact us online here or by calling us at 900-0048.