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Alzheimer's Disease: The Basics

Updated on October 21, 2012

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating, incurable progressive brain disease affecting roughly 5.1 million Americans. Symptoms of Alzheimer's typically show up about age 60 and slowly destroy a persons mental capabilities. Alzheimer's disease disrupts thinking and memory skills and eventually robs those affected of the ability to preform the simplest tasks of daily living.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, however recent studies have shown the early diagnosis and treatment can slow down the progression and help manage the symptoms for some people.

What Happens in The Brain

Dementia Defined

The loss of cognitive functioning is defined as dementia. Dementia interferes with a persons ability to perform daily functions by affecting memory, thinking and reasoning. The affects of dementia range from mild to severe and in some cases are reversible to some extent. Alzheimers's disease and strokes are the two leading causes of dementia in older people, but there are others including:

  • Side effects of medication
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Brain tumors
  • B-12 deficiency
  • Some thyroid, kidney and liver disorders

Life changes can also create temporary bouts of dementia for ageing persons, a sudden relocation, loss of a spouse or particularly emotional event can produce disorientation for an elder.

Alzheimer's or Dementia?

Not all memory loss is Alzheimer's, it is very typical among ageing populations to experience sudden bouts of memory loss due to changes in medication, circumstances or health. First seek qualified medical attention and treatment. If you believe you or your loved one shows signs of memory impalement get answers from your physician and seek treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment have shown positive results in reducing the destructive symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease.


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    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 5 years ago from Oregon

      Thank You CyberShelley, I am happy to hear about forgiveness, God works in mysterious ways. I believe it takes special people to care for folks affected with Alzheimer's because it requires huge doses of patience, insight and understanding.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      mjboomer, I worked with a woman who was a holy terror, and then unfortunately she developed Alzheimers at a very early age, 51 in fact, and she turned in to the kindest, sweetest person anyone could wish to meet. She was forgiven all her sins! Unfortunately, it got hold of her very, very quickly and within three years she had to be put into 24 hour care. Very sad story, but I just remember how very fond of her I was before she left. We all tried very hard to help her.

    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 5 years ago from Oregon

      I agree, it is fascinating how resiliant the brain really is.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      As we grow older we need to know what is going on in our brain! Thanks mjboomer.

    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 5 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks liftandsoar, I pray for you and your wife.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, MJBoomer. Both my wife and I have dementia in our ancestry. Now in our seventies we worry about it.