November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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President Obama has proclaimed November 2016 as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. The President has called upon the people of the United States “to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and support the individuals living with this disease and their caregivers.”

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person. In general, Alzheimer’s disease progresses in four  stages:

  1. Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease – Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. In addition, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI.
  2. Mild Alzheimer’s Disease—at this stage, people experience more than just forgetfulness. Problems can include wandering and getting lost, trouble handling money and paying bills, repeating questions, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, and personality and behavior changes. People are often diagnosed in this stage.
  3. Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease—In this stage, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. Memory loss and confusion grow worse, and people begin to have problems recognizing family and friends. They may be unable to learn new things, carry out multi-step tasks such as getting dressed, or cope with new situations. In addition, people at this stage may have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia and may behave impulsively.
  4. Severe Alzheimer’s Disease—People with severe Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for their care. Near the end, the person may be in bed most or all of the time as the body shuts down.

Scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people, and researches are just beginning to develop treatment regimens.

Visit the National Institute on Aging website to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease basics.

The National Institute of Health has issued a fact sheet about the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: [gview file=””]

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