Understanding Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. It is a chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting cognition (including memory, language, judgement), behavior, and participation in social life. Alzheimer's leads to a deterioration in emotional control (patients may at times become aggressive), physical functioning and the disease is ultimately fatal.

The onset of AD is almost imperceptible, cognitive decline is gradual, and behavioral disturbances may be divided into three stages.
  • Early - Patient has difficulty remembering recent events. Ability to manage finances, prepare food, and carry out other household activities declines. May get lost while driving. Begins to withdraw from difficult tasks and to give up hobbies.May deny memory problems.
  • Moderate - Patient requires assistance with activities of daily living. Frequently disoriented with regard to time (date, year, season). Recall for recent events is severely impaired. May forget some details of past life and names of family andfriends. Functioning may fluctuate from day to day. Patient generally denies problems. May become suspicious or tearful. Loses ability to drive safely. Agitation, paranoia, depression, hallucination and delusions are common.
  • Severe - Patient loses ability to speak, walk, and feed self. Incontinent of urine and feces. Requires care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is Alzheimer's disease preventable?
New estimate suggests that a third of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide can be attributed to risk factors that can be potentially modified, such as:
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor education
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
Uncontrollable risk factors include: older age, family history, and female gender.

Alzheimer's disease
is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and sixth leading cause among the elderly. It has a prevalence that doubles every 5 years in the older population, reaching 30–50% at age 85.

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