Hi and welcome to another video of Psychology To Go. In this video, we will take a look at Alzheimer’s Disease. Let’s discover what it is, who is at risk and how the symptoms and current treatments look like.
We all have heard about Alzheimer’s disease and it is most often associated with the elderly. But what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is named after the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissues of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, unpredictable behavior, and language problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions, which are caused by brain injuries or diseases that cause problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.
As stated by the National Institutes of Health Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Although, a recent estimate indicates that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.
The diagnosis happens after age 65. Everybody who is diagnosed before then has a so-called early-onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).
More and more evidence is discovered, that heart diseases, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol may also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Lastly, people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at greater risk.
There is growing evidence that mental, physical and social activities may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The first symptoms vary from person to person. Usually, memory difficulties are one of the first signs of cognitive impairment. Such memory difficulties can be diagnosed as a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
According to the National Institute on Aging, next to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease can experience one or more of the following signs:
Memory loss that disrupts everyday life, such as getting lost in familiar places or repeating questions.
Difficulties handling money and paying bills.
Trouble finishing familiar tasks at home or work.
Limited or poor judgment.
Change in mood, personality or behavior.
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression.
An early and accurate diagnose provides opportunities for the individual and the family members such as to review financial planning, enroll in clinical trials, and to find the right treatment.
As stated by the National Institute on Aging there are several medications approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Memantine, as well as Donepezil, can be used to treat severe Alzheimer’s.
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Sources: National Institute on Aging, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, Alzheimer’s Association
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