Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys a person’s thinking skills and memory, and its effects are irreversible.
For most Alzheimer’s patients, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s and get progressively more severe over time, eventually affecting the ability to carry out both complex and simple tasks.
It currently affects 5% of those aged 80 and older.
Alzheimer’s is caused by the buildup of amino acid plaque in the brain, resulting in the death of affected brain cells.
Even though we do not fully understand what causes the buildup of this plaque, researchers have found that ageing, a family history of the disease, and the presence of certain genes are common risk factors.
We can’t change our genes or stop ageing, but other risk factors are more manageable.
People are more at risk for the disease when not mentally, socially, and physically engaged.
The presence of other diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, can also be contributing factors, especially if they are not fully managed.
There is no simple test for Alzheimer’s disease, doctors look at various signs and behaviours that typically appear over a period of months or years.
These signs include:
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Misplacing or forgetting things
- Difficulty thinking through tasks and making decisions
- Trouble recognizing faces or common objects
- Experiencing issues using simple tools or properly putting on clothing
Some patients experience changes in personality, mood changes, and compulsive behaviour.
If your friend or family member is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with a physician for further evaluation.
While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things that can make it easier to live with the disease.
The sooner one realizes what’s happening, the faster preventative care can be implemented.
Alzheimer’s typically progresses in three stages: