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Alzheimer's: The Incurable Disease Killing Millions of Americans

Did you know that Alzheimer's Disease is the 6th-leading cause of death in America? 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's in 2019. A new case of Alzheimer's develops every 68 seconds and that is said to worsen to 33 seconds by 2050. You probably know the basics about Alzheimer’s—it affects memory, but…

The brain with Alzheimer's diseases

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a branch of Dementia that impairs an individual’s cognitive function. It's a progressive disease that has 3 main and noticeable stages: early, middle and late stage. Of all the forms of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and is 60-80% of all Dementia cases.

A common misconception about Alzheimer’s is that it’s an old people’s disease. Alzheimer’s can affect people as young as 30 years-old: this is referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s. Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, on average, someone with the disease can live 4-8 years.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

We all have memory lapses from time-to-time, and that’s normal. But with Alzheimer's symptoms you will notice a persistence of these memory lapses and behavioral changes. Alzheimer symptoms include the following:

  1. Repetition of questions and statements

  2. Withdrawal from social interactions

  3. Completely forgetting events and appointments without remembering later

  4. Often misplacement of possessions, often putting them in illogical locations

  5. Inability to recognize familiar places

  6. Mood swings

  7. Forgetting the names and faces of family members and friends

  8. Trouble applying vocabulary to identify objects and to engage in conversation

  9. Increased irritability

woman with mood swings like Alzheimer's Disease

What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s?

There are 3 main stages of Alzheimer’s. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the symptoms become more severe and the changes become more pronounced.

Early/Mild Stage

The first stage of Alzheimer’s is mild and doesn’t severely impact the quality of life of the person struggling with the disease. In this mild stage, you can look for uncharacteristic memory lapses—for example, forgetting familiar faces and places. You might also notice difficulty to remember words needed to complete a sentence.

Middle/Moderate Stage

The second stage is usually the longest. In this stage, you will observe a change in the ability to perform routine tasks–like getting dressed. Alzheimer’s disease makes it hard to process important information that would allow your loved one to maintain their routine.

In this stage, they become more agitated, more moody, more withdrawn and more confused because of their inability to remember minute details and to perform routine tasks.

However, in this phase, someone with Alzheimer retains their sense of self and all the memories associated with that.

Late/Severe Stage

This is the severe phase of Alzheimer's where communication, memory and movement is most painful and difficult. An Alzheimer's patient in the last phase stops responding to stimuli and rarely engages in conversation. Here, home health care is most needed because the last stage typically leads to complete dependence. In this phase, an Alzheimer patient:

  1. Finds it hard to function physically—they struggle to walk, to sit and even to swallow

  2. Struggles to retain new information

  3. Loses awareness of self and surrounding

  4. Requires round-the-clock caregiving

What can you do to Prevent Alzheimer's?

The most heartbreaking fact about Alzheimer’s is that it can’t be prevented, and it is irreversible.

Research indicates that the same risk factors associated with heart disease are also linked to Alzheimer’s. Leading a healthy and active life reduces the chances of developing heart disease and Alzheimer's. Follow these tips to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's:

  1. Regular exercise

  2. Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh produce and healthy oils

  3. Manage blood pressure and refrain from habits that may lead to diabetes and high cholesterol

  4. Avoid smoking

Women exercising to avoid Alzheimer's disease

So basically, take care of your body, and it will take care of your mind.

There is no cure for the Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications and home health care practices to slow the progression of the disease. Learn more about Alzheimer's Care here.

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