Alzheimer’s Disease in Older Adults

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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older individuals. A dementia is a medical condition that interrupts the method the brain works. AD impacts the parts of the brain that manage believed, memory, and language. Although the risk of getting the disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging. At present the cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.

Alzheimer’s Disease in Older Adults

AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer explained modifications in the brain tissue of a woman who had actually passed away of an unusual mental disorder. He found unusual deposits (now called senile or neuritic plaques) and tangled bundles of nerve fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). These plaques and tangles in the brain have become particular brain modifications due to AD.

Symptoms Include:

  • preliminary mild forgetfulness
  • confusion with names and simple mathematical issues
  • lapse of memory to do basic everyday jobs, i.e., brushing their teeth
  • issues speaking, understanding, reading, and writing
  • behavioral and character modifications
  • aggressive, anxious, or aimless habits

Statistics

It is estimated that currently 4 million people in the United States might have Alzheimer’s disease. The disease generally starts after age 65 and risk of AD goes up with age. While more youthful individuals may have AD, it is much less common. About 3% of men and women ages 65-74 have AD and nearly half of those over age 85 could have the disease.

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Diagnosis

No definitive test to detect Alzheimer’s disease in living patients exits. However, in specialized research centers, neurologists now can identify AD with as much as 90% accuracy. The following is a few of the info used to make this medical diagnosis:

  • a complete case history
  • fundamental medical tests (i.e., blood, urine tests)
  • neuropsychological tests (i.e., memory, analytical, language tests)
  • brain scans (i.e., MRI scan, CT scan or PET scan)
  • Research for Possible Risk Factors

Scientists are trying to learn what causes AD and how to avoid it. This list may not be all inclusive or certain. However, research has actually lead scientists to consider these as possible risk factors:

Hereditary factors

Environmental factors — aluminum, zinc, and other metals have been discovered in the brain tissue of those with AD. Nevertheless, it isn’t really understood whether they cause AD, or build up in the brain as an outcome of AD.
Infections — Viruses that may cause the changes seen in the brain tissue of AD patients are being studied.
The only recognized risk factors are age and household history. Major head injury and lower levels of education may also be risk factors. AD is most likely not caused by any one element. More than likely, it is several aspects together that respond differently in each person. Regrettably, no blood or urine test presently exists that can identify or predict AD.

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Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease advances in stages, ranging from moderate lapse of memory to severe dementia. The course of the disease and the rate of decrease differs from individual to person. The duration from onset of symptoms to death can be from 5 to 20 years.

Currently, there is no effective treatment for AD that can stop the development. However, some experimental drugs have actually shown promise in relieving symptoms in some patients. Medications can assist control behavioral symptoms; making patients more comfortable and simpler to handle for caretakers. Still other research efforts focus on alternative care programs that provide relief to the caregiver and assistance for the patient.


Last modified: March 22, 2017

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