Nurse assisting elderly woman

By: Mr. Katz

There comes a time in everyone’s life that we are all looking for our misplaced keys or when we can’t recall a common phone number or even a familiar face. Typically there is no reason to be alarmed. Many of the seniors we come in contact with today even joke about these rare lapse in memory. Some are deathly afraid it is an indicator of something far worse-Alzheimer’s Disease. How does one now if they may show signs of this life altering disease?

Science has made significant progress in understanding the possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease, but many questions remain. It is likely that many factors, both inherited and environmental, interact in complex, poorly understood ways to cause the disease. Memory loss and other problems with cognition or mood could have causes other than Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why medical evaluation is so important. Other possible causes include side effects of medications; certain illnesses such as small strokes or cerebrovascular disease; thyroid problems; depression; fatigue; grief; vision or hearing loss; alcohol use; and potentially even chronic stress. Some of these are treatable or even reversible.

Experts have documented common patterns of symptoms that typically develop in many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and have creates methods of “staging” based on these patterns. Symptoms usually worsen as the nerve cells of the brain degenerate and/or die. Nerve cell damage typically begins with cells involved in learning and memory and gradually spreads to cells that control every aspect of thinking, judgment, and behavior. The damage eventually affects cells that control and coordinate movement.

While the disease may have a significant impact on not only the patient, but also the family as well there are still multiple ways for all to interact meaningful with one another. Remember that a person can participate in all activities the family has, the activity may have to be modified to adjust to the person’s abilities. With a little planning and vision an individual with Alzheimer’s disease may and can still lead a significant and fulfilling life.