& Nutritional Healing Center
Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s ability to remember, think, learn, and carry out even simple tasks. “Dementia” describes a variety of diseases and conditions that damage brain cells and impair brain function, which includes Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is often difficult to distinguish among the different types of dementias because some of the change processes in the brain are similar to other forms of dementia.
The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” should not be used interchangeably. The two conditions are not the same. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia.
Dementia is a broader term for conditions with symptoms relating to memory loss, such as forgetfulness and confusion. Dementia includes more specific conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and others with related symptoms. Other types of dementia are vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), mixed dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Huntington’s disease, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.
Cognition and Aging
Our brain health and our thinking and reasoning abilities, called cognition, may decline as we get older. Changes are gradual and vary from no change to small changes (mild cognitive impairment) or severe changes (dementia).
Most agree that the components of good brain health include: language, thought, memory, ability to plan and carry out tasks, judgment, attention, perception, remembered skills, the ability to live a purposeful life.
Some people never develop a serious decline in cognitive function, and not all who develop mild cognitive impairment develop dementia.
Possible Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of cognitive loss. According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience other symptoms such as memory loss that disrupts daily life, getting lost in a familiar place, or repeating questions. They may also have trouble handling money and paying bills; have difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure; have decreased or poor judgment; misplace things and are unable to retrace steps to find them; and changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
If you or someone you know has several or even most of the signs listed above, it does not mean that you or they have Alzheimer’s disease.
Some causes for these symptoms, such as depression and drug interactions, are reversible. However, they can be serious and should be identified and treated by a healthcare provider.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not currently known, but research suggests a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors may contribute and affect each individual differently. The most recognized risk factor for developing cognitive decline and dementia is advancing age. According to the National Institute on Aging, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65, and the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia increases dramatically after age 80.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Alzheimer’s is broken down into seven stages:
Stage 1—There are no symptoms at this stage, but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
Stage 2—The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
Stage 3—Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
Stage 4—Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but is still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks are evident.
Stage 5—Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
Stage 6—At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
Stage 7—This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.
As a person progresses through these stages, they will need increasing support from a caregiver.
Who has Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias?
Experts estimate that more than 5.5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. More than 90 percent of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia cases occur in people age 60 and older. A small number of people, age 30 to 60 years, develop “early-onset” Alzheimer’s disease. This “early-onset” form of the disease often runs in families.
In American communities, only about half of the people who would meet the criteria for Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias have been diagnosed. In addition, there is a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among Blacks and Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, with many more affected by other forms of dementia.
Prevention and Treatment
Currently, there are no medications that definitively prevent, treat, or cure these conditions, and medical professionals are unable to diagnose the disease before symptoms occur.
Scientists are evaluating whether strategies like exercise, changes in food habits, maintaining relationships with friends and family, or “brain games” can prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease or related conditions. These activities also could improve quality of life for the person with memory loss and the care partner. The medical field is still learning about this disease, and health professionals’ knowledge and understanding continues to grow as research, technology, and clinical practices evolve.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia addresses several different areas: helping people maintain mental function, managing behavioral symptoms, and slowing or delaying the symptoms of the disease.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of illness or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.