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Caregiverlist Care Brief: Alzheimer’s Disease

What Is It? Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia (but not all dementia patients have Alzheimer’s Disease). Alzheimer’s Disease was named after a German physician, Alois Alzheimer. A.D. is a serious, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually the abilities to carry out simple tasks. It is a fatal disease.

Symptoms? Doctors can successfully diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease 90% of the time by physical exams, lab tests, and evaluations of memory and day-to-day functioning but the only way to 100% diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease is an autopsy of the brain to confirm protein deposits. Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease will confuse person, place and time and eventually this will impact their physical capabilities. They will have difficulty learning and retaining information and finding the right words to communicate combined with overall forgetfulness and memory loss. Often, their personality will change as they try to manage these changes.

Treatments? Doctors prescribe medications along with mental exercises and meditation which can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, but there is no cure for it. The best treatment is to form a caregiving support team for the person and their family members. Alzheimer’s Disease progresses at different paces for each person. There are a few Alzheimer’s Disease associations that provide resources and one of the more popular books is: The 36-hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Mabins.