12 Things to Know to Understand Alzheimer’s Disease
Plus, 7 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
- 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.
- 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.
- About two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Short-term memory difficulties.
- Cognitive impairment, i.e. difficulties with thinking and reasoning.
- Changes in mood, behavior and/or personality; for example, agitation, anxiety, aggression.
- Wandering and getting lost.
- Repeating questions and/or statements.
- Trouble managing money and keeping bills paid.
- 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.
* 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