Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common of the dementias in our society, accounting for up to 60-80 per cent of cases. Other common causes can include Vascular dementia, which can be seen in the setting of patients suffering strokes. We frequently see patients with Mixed Vascular and Alzheimer’s Dementia who have pathologies for both conditions. A not uncommon dementia is Lewy Body Dementia, of late in the news because this condition is what the late comedian and actor Robin Williams suffered from. Some patients may present with profound changes in personality before memory loss, often a sign of a Frontotemporal dementia.
Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
There are 10 common warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Memory loss that affects job skills or also causes significant confusion in functioning on a day to day basis at home.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems with language that can make it hard for the patient to express oneself
- Disorientation to time and place
- poor judgement
- Problems with abstract thinking or calculations. A person who could formerly balance a checkbook but no longer has the skill could be at risk
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood or behavior such as the development of significant mood swings
- Changes in personality- a person may develop paranoia uncharacteristic anger.
Loss of initiative-the patient with Alzheimer’s may become uninterested in activities that in the past provided great pleasure
Is There A Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or for many of the dementias. However there are medications available which may produce temporary improvements in memory, thought, and reasoning. Unfortunately theses medicines do not alter the natural history of the disease. But there are robust clinical trials ongoing looking for just such medications which may slow the progression of the disease.
Can Alzheimer’s be prevented?
At the present time there is no evidence for that. Age remains a significant risk factor. But there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle may be beneficial in this regard. So do not smoke, participate in regular physical activity, and eat a healthy.
We have found that locally the Pima Council on Aging provides great resources and support for patients and families.