Hope through Rehabilitation & Research
Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
In late adulthood—65 years and older—most people are relatively healthy and independent, though they may start to notice changes in their health. Chronic illnesses can develop, but often (and thankfully!) these can be treated by medical intervention.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common and the most feared neurodegenerative disorder among the aging population. AD affects approximately 15 million people throughout the world. An estimated 5.1 million individuals in the United States have AD, and by 2050 the prevalence is projected to be 13.2 million. Since the risk increases dramatically with age, an increase in longevity means that more people will be at risk of AD.
In most cases, the initial symptoms are forgetfulness and personality changes. But memory dysfunctions are not always related to Alzheimer’s disease. Although memory may deteriorate in some areas as we age, most people continue to live a normal life. Here’s what to know about what’s
normal and what’s not as it related to AD:
Normal forgetfulness in late adulthood:
Risk factors for AD:
Primary risk factors:
Modifiable risk factors:
Other possible risk factors:
Early Warning Signs of AD:
As with other types of dementia, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is clinical. This includes a detailed history, physical and neurological exam, evaluation of functional abilities (ADLs), screening for depression, mental status testing and/or a neuropsychological assessment, laboratory testing, and head CT or brain MRI studies to rule out other brain or systemic disorders causing the symptoms. This allows doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.
Once a clear diagnosis is made, a family conference is arranged to discussthe natural course of the disease, implications and treatment with the patient and family members.
While there is no medical intervention that can stop the disease progression at this time, there are therapies that can help keep memory functioning longer.
Current FDA-approved AD therapies:
(All target neuronal signaling)
Along with exploring treatment options with the patient and family, your doctor will encourage caregivers to make plans for future financial, legal, and medical issues. For access to health care team and support services, both The Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center of Hudson Valley (ADAC-HV) and the Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester, NY Chapter are great options.
What can you do to help prevent AD? When it comes to prevention, research in Alzheimer’s disease has focused on modifiable risk factors. Here’s a look at some lifestyle changes that may help:
Possible protective factors and preventive measures for AD:
The most important thing to keep in mind: Regardless of your age, keep busy—always be mentally and physically active.
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PLEASE NOTE: Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice. Thank you.