What is Alzheimer's Dementia?

Updated: Jul 14, 2018

The most common form of Dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association.  60-80% of those diagnosed with Dementia it is the Alzheimer's form.  Alzheimer's causes the decline in cognitive abilities and wreaks havoc on the memory of the sufferer.  The disease is powerful enough to disrupt daily life and function, ultimately leading to death.  Alzheimer's Dementia or Disease is progressive in different ways and affects everyone individually; while being the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.



Some cognitive decline is normal with aging but Alzheimer's is not normal.  If you suspect there is a problem with a loved one or yourself, it is important to seek medical attention. Early intervention is key in delaying decline and allows the individual to set their affairs in order in such a way to reduce caregiver burden.  The future of Alzheimer's research is promising but at this moment there is no cure for the disease.  It is best for you and your loved ones to arm themselves with as much information as possible.  The Alzheimer's Association is a fantastic place to start gathering your resources, www.alz.org .Their helpline is 800-272-3900.


Their brochure called the Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease, is a go to for the basics in awareness.  If your or a loved one's symptoms match some of the warning signs; it is time to seek out a medical professional.  Remember that one symptom alone is not enough to conclude dementia.

Here is the link to that brochure: http://www.alz.org/national/documents/tenwarnsigns.pdf


What does Alzheimer's Disease do to the brain?


This picture from the Alzheimer's-Cancer Institute, explains the different areas of the brain and what they are responsible for throughout the body.  With other diseases of the brain certain areas are affected more than others, whereas Alzheimer's Disease affects the entirety of the brain.

Throughout the progression of the disease the brain suffers from nerve death and tissue loss that physically shrinks the organ.


These two brain specimens show at death the differences between an individual with advanced Alzheimer's Dementia and one who died from something other than a brain disease.



Upon autopsy, scientists are able to study the brain with a microscope, and in Alzheimer's disease it will contain Plaques and Tangles.  These have been linked as suspects for what causes the brain to deteriorate and shrink during the duration of the disease.


I have added links to a short YouTube videos that give a much more scientific look at what Plaques and Tangles are and their affect on the brain.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73PRA7wUqS0



In this short video below gives another scientific look at Alzheimer's Disease and a brief history on discovery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT7UovfLl8c



The Alzheimer's Association has another great tool for arming yourself with information.  Below is an interactive tour of the brain that allows you to really get a feel for what is happening inside.

Inside the Brain: An Interactive Tour

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/brain_tour


Once a diagnosis is received, priority should be placed on future planning so the victim can control what the rest of their lives should look like, otherwise it will be up to the next-of-kin to make decisions on their behalf.  Though stressful, taking active control over your own future will ensure your wishes and expectations are met and preservation of your dignity will be a success.