Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease, is the most common form of dementia, and according to Alzheimer Association, a little over 9,000 Washington, D.C. residents had alzheimer’s.
The disease, first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, has no cure. For those that have it, it only worsens as it progresses – and eventually leads to death.
AD is most often diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur much earlier. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.
It’s important to know the warning signs of AD. Those who have AD or exhibit strong signs of the disease, sometimes can be very defensive or protective of NOT having the disease. While looking out for the symptoms, it’s important that you’re more sure than unsure about an individual having Alzheimer’s.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, early diagnosis enables patients to:
- Plan ahead for the future.
- Potentially take part in a clinical drug trial.
- Start treatments that may help maintain independence for a longer time and possibly improve symptoms.
- Be involved in decisions about their care, living options, financial and legal matters.
- Cultivate relationships with doctors and care partners.
- Take advantage of care and support services that make it easier for patients and families to manage the disease.
10 warnings signs of Alzheimer’s:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This includes forgetting recently learned information, forgetting important dates or events, repeatedly asking for the same information, and relying on memory aides or family members for things that used to be handled on one’s own.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. For example, becoming unable to develop or follow a plan or work with numbers, having difficulty keeping track of monthly bills or following a recipe, difficulty concentrating, and taking much longer than normal to do things one has done before.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or at leisure. This may include getting lost while driving in a familiar area or needing help using the microwave.
- Confusion with time or place. People may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as judging distance.
- New problems with spoken or written words. A typical example is calling things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps in order to find lost objects.
- Declines in judgment or decision-making. For example, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying less attention to grooming and keeping clean.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality. For example, becoming easily upset as well as confused, depressed, fearful, anxious or suspicious.
The cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood. Research indicates that the disease is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. Current treatments only help with the symptoms of the disease. Five medications are currently approved by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to treat the cognitive manifestations of AD: four are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (Tacrine, Rivastigmine, Galantamine and Donepezil) and the other (memantine) is an NMDA receptor antagonist. No drug has an indication for delaying or halting the progression of the disease.
Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer’s disease, may be among the most costly diseases for society in Europe and the United States. Numbers vary between studies but dementia costs worldwide have been calculated around $160 billion, while costs of Alzheimer in the United States may be $100 billion each year.
Dementia caregivers are subject to high rates of physical and mental disorders. Factors associated with greater psychosocial problems of the primary caregivers include having an affected person at home, the carer being a spouse, demanding behaviours of the cared person such as depression, behavioural disturbances, hallucinations, sleep problems or walking disruptions and social isolation.
Many notable people have developed it: former United States President Ronald Reagan, movie celebs Rita Hayworth, and Charlton Heston are just a few.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.