Alzheimer’s Disease Definition Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the experience of being human. To date, there is no cure for this disease, and unfortunately symptoms worsen over time and eventually death does occur. Named after a German psychiatrist by the name of Alois Alzheimer in 1906, the disease is one of many different kinds of dementia that can attack the mind of the elderly. Symptoms Some common symptoms associated with the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) include the inability to remember recent events or short term memory loss. As the disease continues to take its course, the individual may experience confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings, difficulty processing language and eventually long term memory loss. Diagnosis of AD includes the use of cognitive testing, an evaluation of behavior and the assessment of higher order executive functions or cognitions. This disease also brings with it a shortened life span with most patients passing away within seven years after diagnosis. Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease Early Stage AD Absent mindedness Forgetting appointments Slight changes seen by loved ones Confusion in situations outside the familiar Middle Stage AD Deeper difficulty remembering recently learned information Deepening confusion in many circumstances Speech impairment Repeatedly initiating the same conversation Late stage Alzheimer's Aggression or passivity Some loss of self-awareness Debilitating cognitive deficit Abusive, anxious, or paranoid Treatment “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of treatment,” or so the saying goes. Intellectual activities such as chess, learning a new language later in life, traveling, exercise or consistent social interaction have been linked to a reduced risk of AD. Lifestyle changes such as learning a musical instrument, doing a crossword puzzle and generally remaining intellectually interested in things can keep neurons firing and dendrites strong. Altering the diet to include more fruits and vegetables and reducing the amount of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates will benefit the cardiovascular system. This, in turn will provide much needed nutrients and oxygen to the brain at substantial levels. When AD has begun and treatment must begin, that treatment is systemic and multifaceted. Medication  is, of course used to treat symptoms, but no medicine to date has proven to stop the progression of AD. Psychosocial interventions include counseling, group therapy, reminiscence therapy, validation therapy, and simulated presence therapy. Other therapies include art, music, pet, and exercise treatments. Essentially, the disease can be managed by medical professionals and caregivers. The goal is to provide adequate care giving that must be managed by professionals and family involvement over the lifespan of the disease. It can be taxing on the emotional and mental resiliency of loved ones and a carefully designed care program is important.
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