What is Alzheimer’s disease?
According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia among older adults.
What are Alzheimer’s disease symptoms?
Symptoms of alzheimer’s disease may include:
- memory loss that interferes with daily routine tasks
- misplacing items
- new problems recalling names, especially people’s names, when speaking
- difficulty planning
- struggles to solve problems
- being unsure of the time or place
- trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- losing the ability to retrace your steps (the “now where was I” sign)
- decreased or poor judgement
- withdrawal from work or social activities
- changes in mood or personality
How is Alzheimer’s disease Diagnosed?
If you or your loved one thinks you may be developing Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, a good first step is to meet with your physician. A careful exam will involve more than one test to find out if you have Alzheimer’s disease or not. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease involves evaluating medical history, identifying which symptoms occurred 1st, 2nd, etc. and when they started, a medical exam, a neurological exam, mental status testing (testing memory and thinking functions, often called a neuropsych exam), various blood tests, and brain imaging (MRI or CT). Sometimes other tests are necessary such as EMG (checking muscle-nerve changes), EKG (checking heart health), sleep study (checking for sleep apnea), or EEG (checking for seizures).
What are the current treatments and therapies?
Alzheimer’s disease currently does not have a known cure, but some treatments may lessen the symptoms. In some cases, help may come from lifestyle changes such as drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical exercise daily, completing different brain exercise, and reducing stress. The physician may prescribe medicines such as “memory boosters” (anti-cholinesterase medicines), antidepressants, or anxiety-reducing medicines.
What are the causes of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by changes in the brain. Genetics play a role in the disease, particularly in adults whose symptoms show up before 60 years of age. While it is possible to have young-onset or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs between the ages of 30 and 60, most cases of Alzheimer’s affects older adults who begin to show symptoms in their mid-60s. Good health, environmental, and lifestyle factors may contribute to the development of the disease. Currently, research links high blood pressure, obesity, poor diet, and diabetes as risk factors for the disease.
What are the unique goals of the 1Florida ADRC?
1Florida Alzheimer’s Disease & Research Center, funded by the National Institute on Aging, evaluates people for diagnosis and participation in research studies. The 1Florida ADRC will have the opportunity to try new medicines to research their effectiveness with slowing down, stopping, or preventing the disease. The center also evaluates people that have memory disorders and problems with thinking functions. The center hopes that many people will agree to donate their brains after they die. The brain donations will allow people to contribute for many years after their death and will help researchers involved in a variety of research projects to learn about the disease and treatments. These discoveries may save the lives of our children for generations to come.
Hope for the future!
The 1Florida ADRC team is working hard so that their efforts through studies and research will have a positive impact to treat, cure, and stamp-out Alzheimer’s disease.