Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 25 million people worldwide or about 50 to 80 percent of all dementia sufferers. While age is a big risk factor for the disease, not all people will have Alzheimer’s. At the moment, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most researched conditions in the world because we have yet to understand what causes it, and only then can we move closer to finding a cure.
One of the first symptoms of the disease is increasing forgetfulness, and confusion. This could be something as simple as forgetting where they put their glasses or forgetting the names of close friends and relatives. This in time can move on to affecting the way someone speaks or writes. Most Alzheimer’s patients will usually exhibit the following:
If you notice the mentioned symptoms and suspect that you or a loved one may have Alzheimer’s you should consult with your doctor immediately, and bring a trusted friend or family along. If diagnosed with Alzheimer’s make sure to ask your doctor about all the questions you need to know about managing your condition, and all the options that you have for care. To determine whether you have Alzheimer’s or not, your doctor will most likely perform neurological testing as well as mental status testing and lab tests. Some will order more advance tests such as CT scans, MRI or PET scan if available, to see any physical changes in the brain.
There are medications currently on the market that can help sufferers alleviate symptoms associated with memory, but these are not cures. Your doctor will also advise you to create a safe environment for yourself while you still can, or for your loved one. This can be done by removing sharp objects around the house and removing clutter, providing handrails where needed (i.e. bathrooms and stairs), and reducing mirrors around the house (people with advanced Alzheimer’s may find images in mirrors confusing). Exercise is also an important component of managing the condition, as well as proper nutrition.
It is not exactly understood yet how we can prevent Alzheimer’s but certain studies suggest that some factors like the intake of NSAIDs, consumption of coffee in middle age and intellectual and social stimulation during the younger years play a role in preventing the disease. So far, the strongest evidence suggests that lowering the risk of heart disease also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s.