Everything you and your family need to know about Alzheimer's disease.

A Guide to Alzheimer's

By Jessica Bell

 

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A brain with and without Alzheimer's

Hello! If you are reading this, you or a loved one has most likely been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Today, I will be informing you on just about everything you need to know when it comes to this disorder. I will be answering frequently asked questions regarding Alzheimer's and all of its symptoms, so follow along carefully, and soon enough you will feel like an expert on this disease.

Introduction

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A man with Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a multifactorial genetic disorder. This means that the disease is influenced by both a person's genetics and the environment they are in. The disease causes a loss of brain function, and affects parts of the human brain that are used for memory, thought, and language skills. It was first named in 1906 by a German doctor named Alois Alzheimer.

"So... what is  Alzheimer's Disease?"

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Alois Alzheimer

"How are individuals diagnosed with alzheimer's?"

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A woman being tested for Alzheimer's

Although doctors can only be about 90% sure about the diagnosis of this disease, several tests can be conducted on patients to rule out other similar diseases. These tests may include memory evaluation, language skills, and problem solving skills. 

Alzheimer's Disease has two categories for symptoms, which are intellectual symptoms and psychiatric symptoms.

 

Some intellectual symptoms include:

-Amnesia, or loss of memory

-Aphasia, or the inability to properly communicate

-Apraxia, or the inability to perform daily tasks

-Agnosia, or the inability to interpret signals from the five senses

 

Some psyciatric symptoms include:

-Personality changes

-Depression

-Hallucinations

-Delusions

 

"What symptoms or side effects do individuals with Alzheimer's experience?"


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A regular person's brain versus the brain of a person with Alzheimer's

"How long will a person live after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's?"

"How common is Alzheimer's disease?"

Unfortunately, this disorder has an impact on a person's life expectancy. On average, an individual's life expectancy after diagnosis is about 8-10 more years.

By age 65, about 2 out of every 100 people has Alzheimer's. By the age of 80, however, as many as 1 out of 5 people have been diagnosed.

"Is there a cure for this disease?"

Sadly, scientists have not yet found a way to cure or prevent Alzheimer's. However, it can be treated using certain medications. Two commonly used medications for this disorder are Aricept and Namenda. Doctors may also give patients anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications.

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Aricept

"Are there any existing Alzheimer's support groups?"

Joining a support group or organization can be a great way to cope when a family member has been diagnosed with a disease. Because Alzheimer's is such a common disease, there are several support groups already made for it.Two that I reccommend are Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) or Alzheimer's Association.