What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Symptoms & Causes

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s is a particular brain disease that was first identified over 100 years ago, however the research into its causes, the risk factors, and possible treatments only started to gain momentum over the past 30 years. The most prominent signs of this disease are the buildup of abnormal brain proteins such as clumps of beta-amyloid (called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of tau filaments (called neurofibrillary knots). The majority of experts agree that the build-up of plaques, tangles, and plaques within the brain could be present for twenty or more years prior to when the symptoms of dementia begin to manifest.

Dementia is the term used to refer to brain disorders that gradually and irreparably affect cognition and behavior until the patient is no longer capable of carrying out normal tasks at work or at home. Alzheimer’s disease is among numerous dementias. It’s the most frequent type of dementia that is seen in older years. It is a permanent progressive brain disorder. It gradually destroys brain function and can lead to the development of dementia. It is characterized as cognitive loss (e.g. memories being lost, confusion, or poor reasoning) as well as psychiatric and behavioral disorders (e.g. delusions, depression, agitation, etc.) as well as declines in functional capacity (e.g. the ability to do the activities of daily life as well as self-care).

What Are the Symptoms?

The most obvious sign of Alzheimer’s disease can be memory loss. When the condition progresses memory decreases, and other aspects, such as language and decision-making skills become more difficult. Changes in behavior and personality could be observed. Someone suffering from the illness might not recognize friends and family.

The person with Alzheimer’s disease must rely on others to assist in the most basic tasks of daily life including eating. Over 90% of those suffering from this disease, the symptoms do appear after 60. The incidence of the disease is increasing as you age.

But, there are different kinds of dementia that are caused by different diseases and disorders of the brain including frontotemporal, Lewy Body, and vascular diseases. Some of the types, like frontotemporal, begin at a younger age of in their 50s or early 60s and may affect speech or behavior while maintaining memory. Differentiating between Alzheimer’s disease as well as other types of dementia with respect to clinical presentation and diagnosis could be challenging and could necessitate extensive testing in specialist centers. Researchers have realized that a lot of these conditions and diseases may co-exist in the brain and combine to trigger the development of dementia. The phrase “Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias” is often used to describe it and its related neurodegenerative conditions.

What May Prevent or Delay the Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Numerous current studies are examining the benefits of exercising, diet, and other changes to lifestyle which could delay or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s. The causes of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t fully understood, however, researchers believe that they are a result of a mix of environmental, genetic, or lifestyle variables. The significance of any of these elements in reducing or increasing the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease could vary from person to person. In the rare instances, referred to as younger or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, patients begin to show signs during their 30s, 40s, or 50s.

Personal and Economic Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2010 there were 210,000 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in Illinois. This number is projected to increase to 240,000 by 2025, which is a 14 percent growth. If all people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in Illinois resided in one city this would be the second-largest city in the state. Alzheimer’s is not a disorder that is confined to a specific race or marital status, or origins, religious belief, or sexual preference.

In the United States, the cost of providing care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is estimated to be 203 billion dollars in 2013. This figure is expected to rise up to $1.2 trillion (in dollars of today) at the mid-century mark. Medicare and Medicaid take care of 70% of the expenses of healthcare. This rise is dramatic and is a 500 percent increase in total Medicare as well as Medicaid spending.

In order to understand the economic and personal impact of Alzheimer’s disease and its related dementias on people suffering from the disease family members and caregivers as well as the federal and state governments, figures on Alzheimer’s disease and related diseases are included in the state-wide plan. A greater number of comprehensive compilations of figures and facts is released annually by Alzheimer’s Association every year.

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