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August 2010 | 1 Comments | Print

Alzheimer’s Disease: How to recognize the symptoms


Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects the brain, slowly destroying thinking skills and memory and, eventually, the ability to carry out even simple tasks. Not everyone who develops Alzheimer’s disease will have the same symptoms. It may progress faster in some compared to others, but generally takes many years to fully develop.

Experts estimate that as many as five million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. Those changes can make it difficult to learn new things or remember easily – but are not necessarily a sign that the person is developing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Emotional problems, health problems, and drug and alcohol use can also affect memory.

Know the symptoms

In the early stages, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble remembering names or recent activities – or seem to have trouble making sense of the world around him or her. As symptoms get worse, the person may tend to get lost, have trouble recognizing family or friends, repeat questions or take longer than usual to complete tasks. He or she may also appear restless, angry or may wander. At its worst stages, people with Alzheimer’s disease lose the ability to communicate and require total care.

For those affected, symptoms usually start to appear after age 60, and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases with age.

What causes Alzheimer’s?

Doctors and scientists do not yet fully know what causes Alzheimer’s disease or how to prevent it. Current research is focused on build-up of certain proteins in the brain (known as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) that may affect nerve cells in the brain, causing them to lose their ability to communicate, deteriorate and eventually die.

Some research suggests that certain health conditions may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, such as

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

Finding treatment

Currently, there are no drugs or therapies that can effectively stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, several medicines are used to treat symptoms, which may help maintain thinking, memory and communications skills for a limited time.

Experts such as geriatricians and neurologists with special training can help make an earlier, more accurate diagnosis. This helps patients and their families better prepared to plan for the future and make healthcare decisions and legal and financial arrangements while the patient is still able to participate.

The geriatricians and staff at The Christ Hospital Center for Health and Aging can are specially trained in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. They provide comprehensive, coordinated care for older adults who have interacting chronic medical conditions, while offering support in dealing with the emotional, social and economic strain illness may bring.

For more information or to find a physician, call 877-904-4YOU or visit  

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I can't believe you're not playing with me--that was so helpful.

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