Alzheimer’s Disease Overview

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a group of brain disorders that cause a progressive loss of intellectual and social skills severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life.

More than 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s in the United States today. Yet, with the aging of the population, it is predicted that 15 million Americans will suffer from the disease by 2050.

With Alzheimer’s Disease, a person’s brain cells degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and decreased mental function.

Frequently, older people will experience normal memory loss. The chart below shows the difference between those experiencing routine loss compared to those who may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Normal Early Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Can’t find your keys. Routinely place important items in odd places, such as keys in the fridge, wallet in the dishwasher.
Search for casual names and words. Forget names of family members and common objects, or substitute words with inappropriate ones.
Briefly forget conversation details. Frequently forget entire conversations.
Feel the cold more. Dress regardless of the weather, wear several skirts on a warm day, or shorts in a snow storm.
Can’t find a recipe. Can’t follow recipe directions.
Forget to record a check. Can no longer manage checkbook, balance figures, solve problems, or think abstractly.
Cancel a date with friends. Withdraw from usual interests and activities, sit in front of the TV for hours, sleep far more than usual.
Make an occasional wrong turn. Get lost in familiar places, don’t remember how you got there or how to get home.
Feel occasionally sad. Experience rapid mood swings, from tears to rage, for no discernible reason.


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