Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that usually presents in older adults over the age of 65, although some cases in younger adults are referred to as “early-onset Alzheimer’s.”

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s causes progressive changes to memory, thoughts, mood, behavior, and other cognitive abilities. And because it’s a progressive degenerative disease, symptoms tend to worsen over time.[1]https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-alzheimers-disease

While there’s still a lot to learn about Alzheimer’s, we know that it’s caused by the degeneration of neurons (or brain cells), specifically in the cerebral cortex. Unfortunately, doctors and researchers can only officially diagnose Alzheimer’s post-mortem by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques in brain tissue.[2]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048075

In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, symptoms may not be obvious and may be limited to minor memory loss. However, as the disease progresses, it can begin to interfere with one’s ability to perform daily tasks and even carry on a conversation with coherency.[3]https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are medications and therapies available to help manage symptoms and slow the deterioration process.

The lifespan of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s ranges between four to eight years after their diagnosis, but patients can live up to 20 years depending on several factors.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s may include:[4]https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

  • Cognitive mental decline
  • Confusion about location or time
  • Chronic forgetfulness
  • Delusion
  • Disorientation and balance issues
  • Difficulty recalling both short and long-term memories
  • Trouble recognizing common things or familiar faces
  • Problems with concentration
  • Intense mood swings that include anger, paranoia, and hallucinations
  • Depression and loneliness
  • Mood disorders
  • Unusual aggression, agitation, or apathy
  • Difficulty managing self-care
  • Chronic irritability
  • Lack of restraint and tendency to wander or get lost