Alzheimer disease is a disease that affects the brain and nervous system. It happens when nerve cells in the brain die. The disease gets worse over time. It is a type of dementia.
Alzheimer disease often causes:
The disease does not affect a person’s movement. He or she can still get around normally.
Doctors do not know what causes Alzheimer disease. They think it might be caused by one or more of these:
The following are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer disease. But not everyone has all of these symptoms. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of Alzheimer disease may look like other health conditions or problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
No single test can diagnose Alzheimer disease. A healthcare provider will first rule out other conditions. But the only way to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease is to examine the brain after death. An autopsy can show changes in the brain that mark the disease.
It’s important to find out if the dementia is caused by an illness that can be treated. A healthcare provider will do thorough exams of the person’s nervous system. The provider may also do:
Medicines are often used to help people maintain mental function and
carry out daily activities. They include:
At this time, Alzheimer disease has no cure. There is no way of
slowing down the progression of this disease. And no treatment is available to reverse
the changes that the disease brings on. But new research findings give reason for hope.
Several medicines are being studied in clinical trials to see if they can slow the
progress of the disease or improve memory for a period of time.
Some medicines are available to
help manage some of the most troubling symptoms of Alzheimer disease. These symptoms
Exercise and social activities are
important to help manage the disease. So are good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and a
calm and well-structured environment.
Because doctors don’t know what
causes the disease, there is no way to prevent it. But some risk factors for dementia
can be modified with lifestyle changes. Taking good care of yourself by controlling your
blood pressure and glucose can reduce the risk for dementia. Head injury increases the
risk of developing dementia, so it is important to wear a helmet when taking part in
dangerous activities. Also wear a seat belt and take other measures to prevent brain
Alzheimer disease is a progressive
disease. This means that memory problems and problems with doing daily tasks gradually
get worse. Each person is affected differently, but people with Alzheimer disease have
mood and behavior problems that make it hard for family members to care for them. As a
person is less able to care for himself or herself, families or others must help with
personal care, meals, and daily activities. People with advanced Alzheimer disease will
most likely need to stay in a place that specializes in care of people with memory
Care programs for people with Alzheimer disease differ depending on the symptoms a person has and how far along the disease is. These programs can help a person and his or her family manage the disease.
Any skills lost will not be
regained, but these tips can help people and families living with Alzheimer disease:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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