Alzheimer’s disease is a significant loss of brain function (which is called dementia) that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It ranges in severity from the mild stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic care. Currently, it has no cure.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease
Although there is not one particular known cause of Alzheimer’s disease, age is considered the greatest risk factor for this disease. Most people who develop Alzheimer disease are 65 years old or older, and the risk increases with the age. People aged 85 years and older are especially at risk for Alzheimer disease. While younger people – in their 30s, 40s, and 50s – may get Alzheimer’s disease but less common. Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
Symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease
The most common symptom of early Alzheimer’s is recent memory impairment. This is not the same as short-term memory, which is the ability to hold something in your head long enough to store it for longer-term memory. On the other hand, individuals with Alzheimer’s typically do not have problems with long-term memory.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
- Loss of concentration;
- Language problems;
- Confusion about time and place;
- Impaired judgment;
- Loss of insight;
- Impaired movement and coordination;
- Mood and behavior change;
- Apathy and depression.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are ways to treat it. Drug therapy aims to slow disease progression and treat symptoms linked with the disease. The benefit from drugs used to treat Alzheimer disease is typically small. There are also medicine-free ways to treat the disease, such as music therapy or memory therapy.
Patients and their families need to discuss with the doctors if drug therapy can help improve behavior or functional abilities. They also need to discuss whether or not drugs should be prescribed early in the course of the disease or delayed.
The following drugs are commonly prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer disease:
- Donepezil (Aricept, generic);
- Rivastigmine (Exelon, generic);
- Galantamine (Razadyne, generic);
- Memantine (Namenda).
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: March 14, 2017 | Last Modified: March 15, 2017
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