Living With Alzheimer's
Myth or Medicine
(Source: Alzheimer's Association) Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Alzheimer's and dementia basics:
- Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
- Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.
- Alzheimer's worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
- Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
Source: Alzheimer's Association
Key Point 1
It is important to note that not all dementia is Alzheimer’s, and not all forgetfulness is dementia. Getting an accurate diagnosis often requires consulting with specialists who utilize a toolbox of both new and established diagnostic tests. While receiving the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be confusing and frightening, it can also help families be proactive in developing the best possible plan.
Key Point 2
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, the disease can progress over many years and through various stages. Particularly in the early stages of the disease, patients can, with support and understanding of those around them, continue to enjoy meaningful activities.