Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, and affects almost 6 million Americans and approximately 44 million people worldwide. Of those, almost two thirds are women. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes a physical atrophy of the brain. Alzheimer’s begins to attack the brain for up to 20 years before the first symptoms manifest themselves.
The first symptoms are often signs of memory loss or confusion. Those impacted may neglect daily actions, such as bathing or eating. Someone struggling with Alzheimer’s may exhibit moodiness or anger – a sign of frustration at an intrusion they don’t understand and can’t control. Greater cognitive skills are gradually lost before physical deterioration begins.
While there is no definitive test to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease, those at risk or exhibiting symptoms can benefit from early intervention. A physician or specialist may perform a CT scan or other diagnostic test to determine the overall health of the brain. Clues may come from a thorough examination of a person’s medical history. Specialized tests can evaluate some of the critical thinking skills often lost to Alzheimer’s.
While there is no certain single cause of Alzheimer’s, there have been several risk factors identified. These include age, certain gene variants, elderly sleep patterns, and more. Yet while genes have been shown to increase risk, it is not thought to be an inherited disease.
There are many things that you can do to improve the overall health of your brain – including diet, healthy sleep, and meditation – and there are some treatments that can ease some of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
According to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures Report, the total cost in the United States associated with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017 was estimated at $259 billion. Overall healthcare costs ramp up exponentially for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. In addition to home and personal care, a person with Alzheimer’s will see increased hospital visits due to the effects of this crippling disease.
There remains no known cure for Alzheimer’s, and death after diagnosis is a certainty.