Alzheimer’s Disease - Memories are worth fighting for
Posted by: Al Clinics
Date: Oct 30 2018 9:36 AM
Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is also the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Symptoms can begin to present in the mid-60s. Dementia is defined as the loss of cognitive function, which involves actions like thinking, remembering, and reasoning. As these symptoms worsen, it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. During the most severe stage, the affected person must often depend completely on others to complete everyday tasks. The term Alzheimer’s was coined in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Dr. Alois noticed unusual changes in a woman who died of mental illness. After examining her brain, he found many abnormal clumps, now called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers now called neurofibrillary. The plaques and bundles are now two key features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Surprisingly, damage to the brain starts taking place at least a decade before memory problems and cognitive impairments appear. Although symptoms aren’t present, monumental changes are happening in the brain: healthy neurons stop functioning, lose connection with other neurons and eventually die. Symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s vary for everybody, but often it begins with problems in word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired judgement or reasoning. Alzheimer’s often progresses through three stages: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease
Those affected begin to experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties. During this stage wandering and getting lost might be a problem. Also, completing everyday tasks such as counting money and working appliances becomes hard for them. They will also begin repeating questions and some personality and behavior changes may happen. This is often the stage where the patient is diagnosed.
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
During this stage memory and confusion worsen and the patient may begin having problems recognizing friends and family members. They may also have trouble completing multi-step tasks such as getting dressed. In addition, patients might have hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and may show impulsive behavior.
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
This is the last stage of the disease when plaques and tangles spread throughout the brain and brain tissue shrinks significantly. At this stage, patients cannot effectively communicate and are completely dependent on others for their everyday care.
Although scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s, it is understood that it is a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. To diagnose Alzheimer’s doctors may:
- Ask the person and family members about overall health, past medical problems, and ability to carry out daily activities.
- Conduct memory tests, and examine problem solving, attention, counting, and language ability.
- Carry out standard tests, such as blood and urine tests.
- Perform brain scans like CT, MRI, or PET.
The Psychiatry Department at Alabama Clinics offers help through screening programs, early diagnosis, delaying progression by memory treatment, support and providing education to caregivers and patient, and participating in cutting-edge research. Alabama Clinics’ multidisciplinary approach incorporates neurology, psychiatry, geriatrics, diagnostic imaging, counseling, social support, and referral to appropriate community resources to develop a successful treatment option for Alzheimer’s.
If you have any questions or concerns about experiencing Alzheimer's symptoms and want to receive more information, contact your primary care physician or come visit us at Alabama Clinics.
2812 Hartford Hwy, Suite 1
Dothan AL, 36305
We are open 7 days a week and walk-ins are welcome!