The signs, symptoms, and effects of Alzheimer’s can be different for every person impacted. Learning about Alzheimer’s is one of the first steps towards getting better.
Learn More About Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s disease, a neurocognitive disorder, is characterized by a decline in memory and cognitive abilities. Currently, this is the most common and recognized form of dementia. Experts estimate that roughly 5.3 million adults in the United States are impacted by this disorder.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease often develop over time and might not be easy to identify when the illness begins. However, even an individual who has not had this disease for very long can have trouble organizing his or her thoughts. This might lead to a great deal of trouble in planning every day events or upholding conversations. The onset of symptoms can be emotionally upsetting for those with Alzheimer’s and to those who interact with those individuals on a regular basis. The brain changes that occur as this disease progresses can cause unusual moods and changes in behavior that are not representative of the true personality of the individual. During the later stages of this disease, ongoing caregiver assistance is often required, as living alone can become both difficult and dangerous.
It is imperative that the family and friends of an individual with Alzheimer’s learn as much as possible about this illness and maintain a solid support system. The changes in thinking and personality that come with Alzheimer’s is not easy to handle, so understanding the primary cause will help to relieve the emotional pain that can develop. Also, treatment options are available to slow the symptoms of this disorder and maintain the individual’s quality of life at its highest possible level.
Between 50% and 80% of all dementia cases are related to Alzheimer’s disease, making it the top cause of dementia. The chances of developing this neurocognitive disorder increases as an individual ages. In fact, experts estimate that the risk increases every five years after one reaches the age of 65. Of all adult cases of Alzheimer’s in those 64 and older, 7% involved individuals aged 65 to 74, 53% included individuals aged 74 to 84, and 40% included individuals over the age of 84.
More females than males develop Alzheimer’s, with women making up nearly two-thirds of all cases. In the United States, this disease is the sixth leading cause of death in adults and research is continually working to provide solutions to treating this disease.
Causes and Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Physicians and scientific researchers are continuously uncovering keys to explaining this complex mental health condition. Many possible causes appear to bring about the disease, and theories are still be tried and tested to fully understand the developmental risk. Below are some of the proposed causes for Alzheimer’s disease:
Genetic Causes: An individual who has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to inherit this disorder, with 50% being the risk factor if one of his or her parents has it. This proves how heredity links this genetic mutation on from one generation to the next.
Environmental Causes: The risk of Alzheimer’s disease can also be increased by negative environmental impacts. The abuse of substances, poor diet, and smoking can increase one’s chances of developing this disease. Also, negative social experiences might add additional danger. Nerve damage, according to researchers, is also one reason why some develop this disease, as nerves are essential to inner-transmission of information and data storage in the brain. Therefore, damaging the nerves can lead to cognitive failure. Depending on the part of the brain that has been impacted, the results will differ, which accounts for Alzheimer’s patients displaying unique symptoms. This also explains why individuals who sustain a traumatic injury to the brain are statistically more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
- History of head trauma
- Having diabetes
- Increased age
- Having Down syndrome
- Having coronary artery disease
- Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Having a history of a neurocognitive or mental disorder in the family
Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Each case of Alzheimer’s is different, and some individuals suffer from the disorder much more powerfully than others do. Some of the most common symptoms of this disease include:
- Easily becoming lost, getting confused about location in familiar places
- Difficulty discerning time and dates
- Loss of ability to operate at normal speed
- Requiring assistance with daily activities
- Difficulty communicating
- Making delusional accusations
- Becoming inexplicably aggressive
- Problems with social interaction
- Difficulty following instructions
- Losing everyday items
- Being late often or missing social gatherings or meetings
- Becoming dizzy
- Shivering and tremors
- Weight loss or gain
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Loss of motor function in walking
- Loss of strength in muscles
- Eating changes
- Poor nutrition from unbalanced diet
- Loss of motor functions
- Becoming confused
- Loss of ability to focus
- Loss of memory
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of orientation to space and time
- Developing delusions
- Experiencing hallucinations
- Becoming disoriented
- Becoming paranoid
- Loss of facial recognition
- Loss of object recognition
- Feeling hostile without reason
- Personality changes
- Having thoughts of suicide
- Becoming angry for no reason
- Having mood swings
- Becoming irritated
- Easily agitated or frustrated
- Becoming sad or depressed
Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease can trigger the following long-term consequences if left untreated:
- Constant state of irritability and aggression
- Permanent disorientation
- Permanent loss of recognition
- Permanent personality disintegration
- Feeling extremely isolated
- Becoming unable to function independently
- Permanent loss of memory
- Difficulty in verbal communication
- Loss of ability to communicate
When immediate action is taken, individuals can obtain an improved quality of life for a longer period of time. Also, treatment can be supplied for any co-occurring conditions that are present with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is commonly experienced alongside of other mental health disorders. If a mental health concern existed prior to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it will most likely remain after the diagnosis. Alzheimer’s might co-occur with the mental health conditions below:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorder(s)