Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic disease that can rip loved ones away from their familiarity with people and things closest to them. Everyone suffers when someone they love is diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is an age-related brain disease in which an individual experiences progressive memory loss. Known as one of the most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is associated with loss of functioning in daily activities and occupational domains.
Understanding the Disease
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that causes changes to the brain resulting in memory loss, impaired judgement and reasoning skills, difficulty with self-care, getting lost in familiar surroundings, spatial and visual relationship problems, anxiety and impulsive behavior, and paranoia and confusion. This can be terrifying when a loved one is experiencing these kinds of symptoms. We tend to want answers and to be able to make sense of what is happening to the people we love, when nothing makes sense about their behaviors or actions.
Understanding some of the science behind the changes in the brain can help ease frustrations tremendously for both patients and caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia – a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.
There is hope and help
Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease. The early signs of the disease include forgetting recent events or conversations. Younger people can be affected by Alzheimer’s, but it is less common. Some early signs to watch out for with loved ones include getting lost in familiar places, trouble handling money or bills, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, decreased or poor judgment, misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them, or changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
If you suspect that a loved one may have Alzheimer’s, consulting with a healthcare provider can help determine if the symptoms they are experiencing are in fact related to Alzheimer’s disease, a more treatable condition such as a vitamin deficiency, a side effect from medication, or merely old age. Early and accurate diagnosis can provide opportunities for your family to consider financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
Pharmasite Research in Pikesville, MD is enrolling individuals with Alzheimer’s disease for a clinical trial. Check out our website for more information and to see if you qualify!