Understanding the Signs of Alzheimer's
As you age, you may get more forgetful, but Alzheimer's disease is much more than that.
The Alzheimer's Association explains these warning signs:
· Forgetting information of life-changing importance. This may include new information that you've just learned, important information or asking for the same information repeatedly.
· Having difficulty with planning and problem-solving, or difficulty with everyday tasks and chores.
· Getting confused about where you are, the date, or how you got somewhere. You may also have trouble with spatial issues, such as judging distances or reading.
· Having trouble reading and writing, and remembering words.
· Losing things frequently, and being unable to remember where you recently were. You may also make poor decisions and practice poor hygiene.
· Withdrawing socially, or having changes in your personality or mood.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
People who get Alzheimer's disease are usually older, but the disease isn’t a normal part of aging. Scientists aren’t sure why some people get it and others don’t. But they do know that the symptoms it causes seem to come from two main types of nerve damage:
§ Nerve cells get tangles, called neurofibrillary tangles.
§ Protein deposits called beta-amyloid plaques build up in the brain.
Researchers aren’t sure what causes this damage or how it happens, but it could be a protein in blood called ApoE (for apolipoprotein E), which the body uses to move cholesterol in the blood.
There are a few types of ApoE that may be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's. It could be that certain forms of it cause brain damage. Some scientists think it plays a role in building the plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
Whether or not ApoE partly causes Alzheimer's, genes almost certainly play a role in the disease. Someone with a parent who had the disease is more likely to have it, too.
There is some evidence that people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol have a greater chance of getting Alzheimer's. More rarely, head injuries may be a reason, too -- the more severe they are, the greater the risk of Alzheimer's later in life.
Scientists are still studying many of these theories, but it’s clear that the biggest risks linked to Alzheimer's disease are being older and having Alzheimer's in your family.
Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented?
As the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease isn't clear, there's no known way to prevent the condition. However, there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
· stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol
· eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight
· staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
How Alzheimer's disease is treated
There's no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but medication is available that can help relieve some of the symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition in some people.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer's live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it's easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.