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15 Weird and Interesting Alzheimer’s Facts

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 18:05
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If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you know just how frightening it can be. It’s scary for us, as outsiders, to experience our loved ones slipping away or changing entirely. But we can only imagine just how frightening it is for them.

Some facts about Alzheimer’s aren’t widely known. And, unfortunately, this disease is becoming more common.

Read on to learn 15 interesting Alzheimer’s facts.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills over time. It’s incurable and irreversible, and it usually ends when the patient can’t carry out even simple tasks.

Most people have symptoms in their mid-60s and experts think that more than 5 million Americans deal with this disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, which is the loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities to the point that it interferes with daily life.

One of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease is the abnormal clubs or amyloid plaques, and tangled bundles of fiber, called neurofibrillary tangles, that experts find in the brain of someone who has died from Alzheimer’s.

Brain Changes

Scientists are still discovering the brain changes that come along with Alzheimer’s disease. It looks like damage to the brain starts a decade or more before the memory and cognitive issues start to show up.

During this early stage, people are usually symptom-free. However, there are still changes happening in the brain that are dangerous and toxic.

Unusual protein deposits from amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles show up in the brain and neurons stop functioning and die.

It seems as though the damage starts in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that forms memories. As more neurons die, more areas of the brain change and shrink.

When Alzheimer’s is in its final stage, the damage is everywhere and there is a visible shrinkage in the brain tissue.

Signs and Symptoms

One of the first signs of cognitive impairment is memory issues. Some people with issues connected to memory have a mild cognitive impairment or MCI. MCI is a condition where people have more issues with memory than other people at their age, but their symptoms aren’t interfering with their lives.

While some people with MCI have more of a risk for Alzheimer’s, not everyone who has MCI gets it.

Many of the other beginning signs of Alzheimer’s vary between people. For a lot of people, they start to lose their ability to find the word that they are thinking of. They can also experience issues with their vision and their reasoning and judgment might become impaired.

Researchers are also studying biomarkers to see if early changes in the brain can be detected. Some studies show that early detection is possible, but more research is needed.

Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

As the disease moves on, people deal with more memory issues and other difficulties related to their cognition. People can begin wandering, getting lost, being unable to handle money or pay bills.

They tend to repeat questions or take a long time to finish tasks that they do every day.

Due to these and other personality changes, people are usually diagnosed at this stage.

Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Here, there is damage in the parts of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. The previous memory loss gets worse and people have a hard time recognizing those close to them.

People at this stage of Alzheimer’s might not be able to learn new things or carry out tasks with more than one step. New situations are also quite difficult.

They may begin having hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, causing impulsive behavior.

Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

At the end stages of Alzheimer’s, the plaque and tangles spread through the brain and the tissue shrinks a lot. People with end-stage Alzheimer’s cant communicate and depend entirely on others for their care. Their body just starts to shut down.

What’s the Cause?

As of right now, scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people. There is some connection between genetics and early-onset Alzheimer’s like we mentioned before.

It usually has to do with a combination of genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

Is There Treatment?

Because Alzheimer’s disease is so complex, no one drug or intervention can treat it. Currently, doctors focus on helping people maintain their mental state and manage their behavioral changes. They also try to slow down memory loss.

Researchers hope to find therapies that target certain aspects of the disease so that the underlying cause can be stopped or prevented.

Now that you understand the basics of Alzheimer’s disease, let’s get into some weird and interesting Alzheimer’s facts.

1. Almost Half of People 85+ Have It

According to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association, 45% of elderly Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. also, 1 out of every 10 people over 65 have it as well.

In fact, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in older Americans.

2. More Than Half Don’t Know They Have It

It’s very hard to detect Alzheimer’s in its earlier states. And because of this, the disease goes unnoticed.

As time goes on, we get better and better at detecting Alzheimer’s early. And while that will increase the statistics for people who have it, it will also mean that we can try to treat it.

3. Women Get It More Than Men

Nearly two out of every three people with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Although, that doesn’t mean that there is a disposition for one gender to have this disease. Women live longer than men, so they are more likely to discover it.

4. Symptoms Can Start At 30

Alzheimer’s is a disease that is associated with the elderly. But 5% of Americans who deal with Alzheimer’s, a number that is around 200,000, have early-onset Alzheimer’s. This particular kind shows symptoms starting in the 30s.

5. Alzheimer’s Occurs Every 65 Seconds

Currently, every 65 seconds in the US, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And if that isn’t frightening enough, that number is expected to double by the year 2050.

This is largely due to the growing elderly population and the lengthening of our lifespan.

6. It’s the 6th Leading Cause of Death in the US

Alzheimer’s disease is deadly, and it’s rapidly becoming one of the most common causes of death in the United States. This is in part because we are getting better at lowering the death rate for everything else, but Alzheimer’s is getting more deadly as time goes on.

7. There Are 16 Million Alzheimer’s Caregivers

The vast majority of family caregivers are given to people with Alzheimer’s. Only 10% of seniors receive all of their care from paid health professionals.

Also, it’s interesting to note that most of these caregivers are women.

8. The People Who Take Care Of Them Are At Risk

While Alzheimer’s isn’t contagious, the people who care for people with Alzheimer’s have an increased chance of depression, emotional stress, and financial issues.

People with Alzheimer’s have a hard time communicating and their personality changes drastically, and this can place a very large strain on their caregivers. And close relationships put caregivers at a much higher risk for psychological and physical issues.

Luckily enough, therapy and support groups reduce this risk.

9. Patients Pay $102 billion Per Year

And that’s just the amount of people who pay out of pocket. The total cost of health and services for people with Alzheimer’s is $277 billion. Medicare and Medicaid pay for roughly $175 billion, or about 70% of these fees.

Medicaid coverage is important especially for people with Medicare who have low assets and income, but also need to be cared for long-term by skilled nurses.

10. 800,000 Live With This Disease… Alone

While there are a lot of people with Alzheimer’s who have the support of family and caregivers, or who live in a dementia care community, there are also a lot of people who suffer alone and in silence.

Many of these people have no caregivers, and this puts them at risk of medical emergencies, bad self-care, isolation, and a whole host of other issues.

You can view here for more information about Alzheimer’s and the importance of a healthcare community.

11. You Can Reduce Your Risk

There are studies that show that exercising vigorously for 30 minutes a day can seriously reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Add some green tea to your post-workout routine and further decrease your chances.

12. Vivid Recollections

Many times, people with Alzheimer’s have very clear memories of their early years. It’s important, and good for therapy, to help them draw this conversation out.

13. Coffee Could Help

Researchers in Germany and France found that caffeine and coffee could slow memory decline.

14. There’s a Book

In 2004, Maria Shriver wrote a book called “What’s Happening to Grandpa”. It’s a story told from the view of a young girl who has a grandfather with Alzheimer’s.

15. Ireland Leads in Europe

In Ireland, there is a National Dementia Strategy that the Department of Health put in place in 2011. This plan put Ireland at the forefront of Alzheimer’s care in Europe.

Alzheimer’s Facts

While some of these Alzheimer’s facts might seem weird, there’s nothing strange about Alzheimer’s disease, unfortunately. This is because it’s becoming more common and it’s impossible to stop.

If you or someone you love is dealing with Alzheimer’s symptoms, it’s important that you seek help as soon as possible to attempt to slow the decaying of the brain. You’re not alone.

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