What Should I Know About Alzheimer's?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
People who care for loved ones should take into account that personality changes, memory loss and mood swings are all common symptoms of Alzheimer's.
People who care for loved ones should take into account that personality changes, memory loss and mood swings are all common symptoms of Alzheimer's.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of cognitive decline, it is time to learn about Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, you need to know who gets Alzheimer’s, how prevalent it is in modern society and you need to begin seeking information about Alzheimer’s caregiving. Understanding specific details about Alzheimer’s will help you understand the disease better, be aware of how it affects individuals and families, as well as understand how to prepare for the disease in an effort to decrease its impact and increase the quality of care a patient will have access to.

Physicians need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.
Physicians need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive illness characterized by a decline in nerve cells. As a result of such a decline, an individual with the disease will display symptoms such as losses of long- and short-term memory, language deficits and communication, and will likely even experience a decline in motor functioning. AD most commonly occurs in aging individuals. In rare circumstances, however, individuals may be stricken with AD in middle age. One of the most important things to know about Alzheimer’s is that it is a progressive disease, meaning that slight symptoms may begin early and be hardly noticeable, and can take as many as 10 years to progress to the latter stages of this disease.

As there is no cure for Alzheimer's, therapy is used to treat symptoms only.
As there is no cure for Alzheimer's, therapy is used to treat symptoms only.

When learning about Alzheimer’s, some are surprised to discover it is not a part of the routine aging process. Millions of people suffer from the disease worldwide and thousands more are stricken with it every year. In the United States though, Alzheimer’s affects an average of 5 percent of all Americans.

If you are currently affected by the disease or are caring for a loved one with this illness, you should be aware that a common symptom of Alzheimer’s is that individuals with the disease may suffer mood changes, bouts of forgetfulness, an inability to acquire new tasks and may even display a loss of ability in performing routine tasks. Such tasks may include dressing one’s self, organizing bills, dialing a telephone and other tasks needed for an individual to live and function independently. Having this knowledge about Alzheimer’s ahead of time and preparing to help a loved one work around them can soften the impact the disease may have as these losses become apparent. Experts recommend that nursing care, health care and other expenses be factored into Alzheimer’s costs at the onset of the disease in order to prepare families for these costs when they become necessary.

Reading is a good way to stay mentally active, which is important for managing Alzheimer's disease.
Reading is a good way to stay mentally active, which is important for managing Alzheimer's disease.

Another important thing you need to understand about Alzheimer’s is that, as a progressive disease, Alzheimer’s mortality is inevitable. Some people may live as many as 20 years after being diagnosed, but it is still a fatal disease. There is no cure for AD and, although some treatment therapies may help slow the disease’s course, there is no way to completely halt all symptoms.

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    • People who care for loved ones should take into account that personality changes, memory loss and mood swings are all common symptoms of Alzheimer's.
      By: Monkey Business
      People who care for loved ones should take into account that personality changes, memory loss and mood swings are all common symptoms of Alzheimer's.
    • Physicians need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      Physicians need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.
    • As there is no cure for Alzheimer's, therapy is used to treat symptoms only.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      As there is no cure for Alzheimer's, therapy is used to treat symptoms only.
    • Reading is a good way to stay mentally active, which is important for managing Alzheimer's disease.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Reading is a good way to stay mentally active, which is important for managing Alzheimer's disease.