Talk to your doctor if you or someone close to you has symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. The occurrence and frequency of Alzheimer's tend to rise significantly with age.
What changes can I expect?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the connections in the brain. It’s the most common cause of dementia symptoms. Often includes memory issues, trouble finding the right words, having trouble navigating your way around, and more.
In the later stages, assistance will be needed for activities of daily living such as eating, personal hygiene, grooming, dressing and bathing. Behaviour changes can also be apparent and can progress from anxiety, depression and frustration in the earlier stages to hallucinations, delusions, suspicions about family/professional caregivers, apathy and sometimes aggression.
What changes happen in the brain with Alzheimer's?
The hallmark of Alzheimer's is the appearance of plaques and tangles in the brain. It's believed that plaques and tangles start developing in the brain at least 15 years before the onset of symptoms. These plaques and tangles affect the ability of the nerve cells to communicate with each other and ultimately cause the nerve cells to die. This can result in shrinkage of the affected parts of the brain.
An area called the Hippocampus, located deep in the brain's temporal lobe, is the first to be affected by Alzheimer's. This part of the brain is involved in learning and memory, which accounts for why memory loss of recent events is often the first symptom of Alzheimer's. Changes are progressive and spread slowly to other parts of the brain. The symptoms of Alzheimer's and the course of symptoms that appear differ from one person to another. It depends on the parts of the brain affected and the progression rate.
What causes these plaques and tangles to form?
Researchers around the world are working hard to identify this. What triggers the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain is unclear, though several theories have been proposed. An interplay of multiple factors, including genetics, environmental factors, lifestyle, and overall health, is suspected.
How is Alzheimer's disease diagnosed?
There is no single, conclusive test for Alzheimer's or any other type of dementia. A diagnosis is based on investigating a person's medical history, a physical assessment, blood tests, imaging and cognitive assessments. At the end of these investigations, the physician can diagnose dementia and narrow down the most probable type of dementia.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, but medications are available to help control the symptoms.