Alzheimer's Disease Facts

Alzheimer's disease is an irrevocable, incurable and progressive brain disease. This disease slowly destroys memory and thinking ability, and ultimately reduces even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer's disease disturbs and interferes with a person's daily life and activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer's disease most frequently affects older people and is also seen in middle or younger aged people.

Memory problems seem to be the first symptom of Alzheimer's disease. And as the disease progresses, memory loss continues and changes in normal behavior appear during the initial stage of Alzheimer's disease. Forgetting the route and getting lost, trouble in handling money and paying bills, repeating questions even after knowing the answers, taking longer time to complete even the normal daily tasks, personality changes, poor judgment ability, repeatedly changing mood, etc., are some of the noted behavior changes in people suffering from patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. People often are first diagnosed in this stage.

During the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease, memory loss and confusion increase, and the patients may find problem in recognizing family and friends. They will find difficulties in coping with new situations and learning new things. They will be unable to do even the familiar tasks such as dressing themselves.

During the final stage of Alzheimer's disease, people cannot even speak and are completely dependent on others for their care. During the end period of the final stage, the patient's body shuts down and the patient may have to be in bed all the time.

The common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are memory loss, inability to think and understand, personality changes, and inability to function. But the symptoms, type, severity, sequence and progression of the mental changes due to Alzheimer's disease vary from person to person.

In the past, Alzheimer's disease can be certainly diagnosed only after death by examination of brain tissue. The early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which include forgetfulness and loss of concentration, are most frequently neglected as normal signs of aging. But, now-a-days, doctors can guess whether a person having memory problems has Alzheimer's disease based on some diagnosis and tests. The doctors diagnose Alzheimer's disease based on the person's overall health, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and behavior and personality changes. The doctors also conduct memory tests, problem solving tests, etc. They may do blood test, urine test, and spinal fluid test, and take computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the person's brain.

The medications such as Donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and Memantine are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Alzheimer's disease. These medicines help to maintain thinking, memory, and speaking skills, and control certain behavioral problems. But these drugs do not help in controlling the progress of the disease and are useful only for a few months to a few years.

An early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can increase the chance of getting potential benefits from approved medications. Early diagnosis of the disease also allows the affected person to make important financial and legal decisions.

The medications recommended for Alzheimer's disease may increase the risk of worsening dementia and other adverse effects. Behavioral symptom management with no medications is highly recommended for people having Alzheimer's disease. Family education and counseling, modification of the environment and modification of planned activities are recommended for properly.
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