What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease occurs most often in older persons. As the percentage of older persons in society increases, more and more people are getting the disease. Some famous people who have been diagnosed with AD are Ronald Reagan (former President of the United States), Rita Hayworth (actress), and Sugar Ray Robinson (middleweight world champion boxer).
It has been estimated that over 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease. There are currently about half a million Canadians living with Alzheimer`s disease or a related dementia. Estimates for Canada are that one in 11 persons in the 65+ age category has the disease. As well, the incidence in persons 85 years and more is 25%.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a new disorder. In 1906, a physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, found changes in the brain of a 51-year-old woman who had died of a strange mental illness. The condition was found to be a new disease and was later named “Alzheimer’s disease” after its discoverer.
Alzheimer’s Disease vs Dementia
Dementia describes a group of symptoms caused by a variety of disorders. The disorders cause a decline in mental and cognitive function over time. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, resulting in the death of certain types of nerve cells in the brain. It affects thought, memory, and language. Changes occur in the way a person behaves, as well as in mood and personality. Judgment and reasoning are affected as well as the ability to communicate and to carry out daily activities.
When a person presents with symptoms of AD, tests are usually done to detect other possible causes of dementia. Once other problems have been ruled out, diagnosis depends heavily upon the person’s history. The only certain way to diagnose the disease requires an examination of the brain tissue at autopsy. Research is ongoing into the cause and treatment of AD. There is no cure for the disease, although medication can prevent or reduce some of the symptoms, at least for some time. These medications work best when used along with behavior management. The basis of care for people with AD remains behavior management.
Read more: Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease