Alzheimer's disease is at the root of from 50 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia. While it is not a normal part of the aging process, it is true that those with the highest risk for Alzheimer's is people 65 and older.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's is a disease that causes changes in the brain that result in issues with memory, behavior, and thinking. It is the most predominant cause of dementia, which is a group of brain conditions that result in gradual loss of social and intellectual skills that can interfere with a normal life.
What Causes It?
Scientists and doctors still don't fully understand what causes Alzheimer's, but they do know that it comes from factors that affect he brain over a long period of time. These factors include things to do with genetics, lifestyle, and environment.
It is also clear to scientists how the disease affects the brain - it not only damages brain cells but kills them as well. The brain of someone with Alzheimer's has far fewer cells than a normal brain and there are fewer connections between the cells that have survived without damage. As brain cells die, the brain shrinks.
How Is It Treated?
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are ways to treat the symptoms and research on possible cures continues. The treatments that are available can't completely stop the disease from getting worse, but they are capable of slowing down the progress of the symptoms enough to improve the patient's quality of life.
There are two types of drugs that are used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's related to thinking, memory, and reasoning.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the levels of communications between the remaining cells in the brain.
- Memantine is like cholinesterase, but works in a different network of the brain involved with communication.
Another important part of treatment for Alzheimer's patients is to provide for them a living situation that has been adapted to their needs. They also need exercise and a healthy diet.
Can It Be Prevented?
While part of Alzheimer's research is working on ways to prevent it, there really is no on thing yet that has proven to be a good preventative. The best evidence available suggests that by lowering the risk of heart disease may also lower the risk of Alzheimer's.
Remaining active mentally, physically, and socially can make life more complete and may help decrease the chances of Alzheimer's disease.