Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alzheimers Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment Options

Did you know that the U.S. government has a website devoted to providing information specifically about Alzheimer's Disease?  There are also other websites that provide valuable information to the families of people who are suffering from Alzheimer's. 

These resources are especially important because the U.S. government estimates that there are over five million people in the United States who are currently living with Alzheimer's Disease.  As Baby Boomers age, the number of these patients is expected to increase dramatically to 15 million by 2030.

Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia.  It causes behavioral problems as well as memory loss.  Eventually it can lead to death.  The more we know about this serious illness, the better prepared we will be if it affects someone we love.

Reliable Alzheimer's Disease Websites

First, everyone needs to know how to find reliable and current information online.  Below are two websites, one from the government and one from the Alzheimer's Association.

http://www.alzheimers.gov/medical_treatment.html
http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_standard_prescriptions.asp

The remainder of this article summarizes the detailed information that can be found on these websites.

Like many of you, my family has also been affected by this tragic disease and we have seen the effect it can have on both patients and their families.  Everyone should be familiar with the symptoms and treatment options.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

It can be difficult to diagnose Alzheimer's because the symptoms can be similar to those caused by other health problems.  Here are the most common symptoms:

Memory loss
Trouble finding words
General disorientation
Difficulty making decisions
Changes in behavior and personality (often this can mean hostility, becoming suspicious, or exhibiting anger)

The longer the person has the disease, the more likely they are to also exhibit some of these additional problems:

Sleeplessness
Agitation
Wandering
Anxiety
Anger
Depression

If you are the caretaker of a person with Alzheimer's, it can be exhausting to continually watch over them, especially if they become agitated and angry.  It is very important that caregivers seek outside assistance.  They also need to take care of their own physical and emotional health without feeling guilty.  Caregivers need to be able to leave the patient with others while they spend time in relaxing and enjoyable activities.

Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease

Although there is no clear cause of this disease, there do seem to be certain factors that make us more likely to develop Alzheimer's.  However, even if you have several of these risk factors, there is no guarantee than you will develop the disease.  There is still a great deal about Alzheimer's that is not understood.  The most common risk factors are shown below, and are frequently beyond our control:

Aging (the frequency doubles every five years after age 80)
Genetics
Downs Syndrome
Other intellectual or developmental disorders
Repeated concussions in the past
A traumatic brain injury

Alzheimer's Treatments

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are some medications that seem to delay the symptoms and may even improve the patient's quality of life:

Cholinesterase Inhibitors and Memantine

These drugs, which are sold under the names Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne, Cognex and Namenda, help treat memory loss, confusion and similar problems with reasoning and thinking.

In some cases, high doses of Vitamin E may also be prescribed.

Other Medications

In addition, medications may be prescribed to help with other symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as depression, insomnia and anxiety.  While these do not stop the progression of the disease, they may make the patient happier and improve their quality of life.


If you are interested in learning about dementia, Alzheimers and aging you may be interested in reading these excellent articles:

The Mind Diet Reduces Alzheimer's Risk:

http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com/2015/07/mind-diet-reduces-alzheimers-risk.html

Is it Alzheimer's or a Treatable Disease?:

http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com/2014/05/is-it-alzheimers-or-treatable-disease.html

How to Talk to Someone with Alzheimer's:

http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com/2014/05/how-to-talk-to-someone-with-alzheimers.html

The UCI 90+ Study at Laguna Woods Village

http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com/2014/05/the-uci-90-study-at-laguna-woods-village.html



You are reading from the blog http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo of elderly person courtesy of www.morguefile.com

2 comments:

  1. We've had to deal with Alzheimers in our family. This article is an excellent reference for anyone needing information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for publishing this article. Fortunately, times have changed and we understand this disease and its effects more than in recent history. There are also a lot more choices for assistance and housing for people with Alzheimer's. Start here: www.Seniorly.com

    ReplyDelete

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