June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month! Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior.
*All information in this blog post is from the Alzheimer’s Association*
Some facts about Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia – and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases
- Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging – the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
- Alzheimer’s worsens over time – it is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.
- Alzheimer’s has no cure – but one treatment — aducanumab (Aduhelm™) — is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.
Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As it advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. If you need assistance finding a doctor with experience evaluating memory problems, your local Alzheimer’s Association can help. Earlier diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life.
Alzheimer’s and the brain:
Microscopic changes in the brain begin long before the first signs of memory loss.
The brain has 100 billion nerve cells (neurons). Each nerve cell connects with many others to form communication networks. Groups of nerve cells have special jobs. Some are involved in thinking, learning and remembering. Others help us see, hear and smell.
To do their work, brain cells operate like tiny factories. They receive supplies, generate energy, construct equipment and get rid of waste. Cells also process and store information and communicate with other cells. Keeping everything running requires coordination as well as large amounts of fuel and oxygen.
Scientists believe Alzheimer’s disease prevents parts of a cell’s factory from running well. They are not sure where the trouble starts. But just like a real factory, backups and breakdowns in one system cause problems in other areas. As damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs and, eventually die, causing irreversible changes in the brain.
For more information, visit https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers