Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurological condition caused by plaques and tangles in the brain that gradually affects a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As it progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation as well as hallucinations.
Alzheimer’s disease affects 1 in 8 individuals over the age of 65 and is the most common form of dementia, however the cause of the disease is currently unknown. Some suspected causes include diseased genes or a genetic predisposition, abnormal protein build-up in the brain, and environmental toxins.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly twice as many women have AD as men. AD also worsens more quickly in women than it does in men.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. The earliest symptoms may go unnoticed. The symptoms may begin with forgetfulness and mild confusion. The person may have trouble remembering recent conversations or familiar words. The person may forget the names of family members and close friends. Personal items may get lost, or kept in unusual places. As AD progresses, thinking and reasoning may become difficult. Familiar tasks, such as driving and cooking, become harder and then impossible. The person may need help getting dressed or using the toilet. You may notice personality changes, too. The person may become depressed, anxious, and aggressive, with rapid mood swings. A person with AD may experience delusions and may begin to wander.
10 Warning Signs You Should Know:
- Recent memory loss that affects job/life skills or daily activities
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems with language
- Disorientation of time and place
- Poor or decreased judgement
- Problems with abstract thinking
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Changes in personality
- Loss of initiative
Lowering Your Alzheimer’s Risks
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the more education you have, the lower your risk of getting AD. You have lower odds of getting AD if you keep your brain active in old age by doing activities such as:
- taking classes
- learning languages
- playing musical instruments
Doing group activities or interacting with others also may lower your risk.
Research into a vaccine continues, but so far there are no sure ways to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing. However, medications can help relieve some symptoms.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you are not alone in Baton Rouge. The first step is to see a neurologist at The NeuroMedical Center for detailed neurologic testing and to help create a care plan that is right for your needs. Patients will usually have a CT or MRI scan of their brain to see if they have any other causes of memory loss. Doctors will also conduct various blood tests and sometimes perform an EEG, which is a test that measures the electrical activity from the brain. Patients can be referred to a neuropsychologist for more extensive memory testing.
After testing is complete your neurologist will discuss your results with you. Several medications (“memory pills”) are approved for treatment of mild, moderate, and severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Other medications can be helpful to treat other conditions common in AD such as depression, agitation, or hallucinations. Good management and control of other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. is important. Regular physical activity and mental stimulation are also helpful.
Help for Alzheimer’s Disease
Although no cure for Alzheimer’s disease is presently available, proper education, good planning, and support can ease the burdens on the patient and family. There are also many resources available to you:
Expert Evaluation and Care for Alzheimer’s Disease
If you or someone you love is experiencing difficulties with memory, thinking, problem solving, communication, or behavior, it is important that you seek out expert assessment from a physician. Sometimes, other reversible conditions might be causing problems with cognition such as vitamin deficiencies. The experts at The NeuroMedical Center offer specialized tests to confirm, or rule out, Alzheimer’s disease, and can provide you with the highest level of comprehensive care for your individual diagnosis. Begin the process today by calling The NeuroMedical Center today (225) 768-2050 or by requesting an appointment online.