Alzheimer’s is a condition affecting the brain, its effects gradually destroy the ability to process and remember information, and it is responsible for around 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia and is a cause of dementia. Dementia being the general term for a decline in mental ability whilst Alzheimer’s is the specific disease.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease which affects the brain resulting in brain cell death. Some of the most common early symptoms are struggling to remember new information as it usually affects the learning part of the brain first.
The majority of those affected will experience late-onset symptoms that appear in their mid-sixties (2 in 3 cases), but a small number may experience symptoms at a much younger age. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of early-onset dementia affecting 1 in 3 younger people with dementia. 1 in 11 people over 65 have dementia in the UK.
Research into Alzheimer’s links the disease to an abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells, causing plaques and tangles around brain cells. This process begins many years before symptoms appear and over time different areas of the brain will shrink – usually starting with the areas responsible for memory.
Whilst it is not known exactly what can trigger the condition, there are factors known to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s such as age, family history, Down’s syndrome, head injuries, cardiovascular disease, hearing loss, depression, loneliness, social isolation, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia are stopping smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet, leading an active lifestyle physically and mentally, being a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol and going for regular health checks as you get older.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, it may be necessary for you or a loved one to explore Alzheimers care as an option. During the middle stage of the disease, symptoms can include mood swings, confusion and disorientation, hallucinations, difficulty with spatial awareness and someone with the condition, may need help with competing everyday tasks such as eating, washing, getting dressed and going to the toilet.
In the later stages, the symptoms can become increasingly severe, causing someone to become violent, demanding, and suspicious of others. They may have trouble eating and swallowing, mobility issues, weight loss, incontinence, loss of speech and significant issues with long and short-term memory.
As the condition progresses, they may need full-time care and assistance – this can be a lot for a family carer to take on alone and it could be worth looking into Alzheimer’s care options such as live in care. Live in care is when a carer lives at the home of the person, they care for so they can provide one-to-one care around the clock. It allows someone to remain in their own home and around a familiar environment and people.
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