12 Things to Know to Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

Plus, 7 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  1. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia. In other words, all Alzheimer’s patients have dementia, but not all dementia patients have Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia; it represents 60% to 80% of all dementia cases.
  2. Less than one third of senior adults get Alzheimer’s disease. Most who do are not diagnosed until their late 70s and above. Only about 11% of people 65 and older have Alzheimer’s.
  3. About two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.
  4. Dementia is by far the most common disability that leads to the need for long-term care for seniors. About 80% of senior adults in nursing homes have dementia.
  5. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. As Baby Boomers continue to age, that number is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.
  6. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. From the time symptoms are noticed, an Alzheimer’s patient will live an average of 8 years (within a range of 4 to 20 years).
  7. The most common early warning sign of Alzheimer’s is short-term memory loss, i.e., difficulty remembering newly learned information. However, forgetfulness and age-related memory change are not necessarily the result of Alzheimer’s.
  8. No cure has been found for Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of the disease is unknown. Scientists do not know why it strikes mostly older adults.
  9. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is made based on observing symptoms and eliminating other possible causes of dementia. A certain diagnosis is possible only after death.
  10. About 5% of Alzheimer’s patients have early-onset Alzheimer’s, meaning that they are diagnosed before age 65, usually in their 40s or 50s.
  11. Famous Alzheimer’s patients include Ronald Raegan, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Peter Falk, Perry Como, Glenn Campbell, Charles Bronson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rita Hayworth.
  12. Alzheimer’s is named after Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neurologist. In 1906, Alzheimer studied the brain of a deceased patient who had demonstrated short-term memory loss; he discovered the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that occur in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. A colleague called the condition Alzheimer’s disease.

7 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  1. Short-term memory difficulties.
  2. Cognitive impairment, i.e. difficulties with thinking and reasoning.
  3. Changes in mood, behavior and/or personality; for example, agitation, anxiety, aggression.
  4. Wandering and getting lost.
  5. Repeating questions and/or statements.
  6. Trouble managing money and keeping bills paid.
  7. The symptoms are getting progressively worse.

In its later stages, Alzheimer’s symptoms are severe, numerous and unmistakable, including: inability to recognize family members, unable to dress oneself, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, severe physical decline.

Sources:

* The Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/

* National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/

* World Alzheimer Report 2013: Journey of Caring: http://www.alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2013.pdf

* A Place For Mom: www.aplaceformom.com