As humans age the risks of showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease increase, which, in turn, causes many people to fear they have this unfortunate disease, even when they do not. A proper examination by your physician or a specialist – generally a neurologist – is the only way to be sure you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, which is a chronic condition that most often strikes people over 65 years of age.
The illness is one of the major causes of adult dementia, mostly categorized by the increasing inability to make new memories and the ability to recall memories, concentrate, and solve problems.
Needless to say, this is a frightening disease that seems to be increasing around the world if only because healthcare improvements are allowing more and more people to live longer. This means more elderly adults will survive long enough to become victims of adult-onset illnesses.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and that number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2060. As the risk increases, Alzheimer’s Disease rates based on age double every five years pasted the age of 65.
There are risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s Disease beyond the most critical risk factor, which is aging. Other risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Surviving a stroke
- High cholesterol
- Family history
While these factors increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show there is a correlation between a person’s lifestyle and the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. These factors include keeping an active social life, staying physically fit, and maintaining a lifestyle that promotes the continued application of cognitive skills. In other words, it can be helpful to keep your mind busy as you get older.
The most critical symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. This is a painless process, but one that is devastating especially over time. As some people point out, a life without memory is, essentially, a non-human existence. The human experience from a mental point of view relies enormously on memories. Everything from problem-solving to the act of concentrating, having a casual conversation, and recognizing friends and relatives is based on memory. Essentially, the disease robs you of your lifestyle, your friends, your ability to communicate and carry out daily activities.
The most common effect of Alzheimer’s disease is fear, especially during the time in which a patient’s memory fading has begun, but has not progressed so far they cannot function. Knowing your memory is slipping away is akin to facing a life of walking emptiness. Thus, while your loved one becomes more scared day by day, they also become more of a burden to their caretakers. It is important to have the necessary help in order to handle a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease so that your own efforts don’t become unbearable.
It is highly recommended that a competent physician or a neurologist diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. This is largely due to the fear factor and the fact that a diagnosis is largely based on day-to-day activities. As such, if you are over 60 and you can’t remember someone’s name, it is common to fear that you have Alzheimer’s disease.
But a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is based on a loss of cognitive abilities in more than one metric. However, if you or a loved one age 60 or higher shows more than one of these symptoms, it would be wise to see a doctor for an evaluation.
The following are potential signs of Alzheimer’s disease
- An inability to make new memories – sometimes noticed when someone watches the same television program or movie without remembering they had seen it recently.
- Trouble handling money or paying bills
- Increase in moments in which you can’t remember why you crossed a room
- Increases in erratic judgments
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Losing glasses, car keys, purse, or wallet. Forgetting where you parked the car while shopping
- Asking the same question again and again
Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which grows progressively worse over time and is the fifth leading cause of death for persons over 65. While there are no medical treatments, families must confront the possibility of caring for an elderly relative who has difficulty performing even simple tasks. Most persons with Alzheimer’s disease are cared for at home, while others live in nursing homes or retirement homes.
Concerned about Alzheimer’s? In San Diego, dial 619-461-5663 to schedule an appointment.