Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease are diagnosed after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some facts about this condition:
Alzheimer’s is a chronic ongoing condition.
Its symptoms come on gradually, and the effects on the brain are degenerative (they cause slow decline).
There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and may improve quality of life.
Anyone can get Alzheimer’s disease, but certain people are at higher risk for it. This includes people over age 65 and those with a family history of the condition.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the same thing. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.
There’s no single expected outcome for people with Alzheimer’s. Some people live a long time with mild cognitive damage, while others experience a more rapid onset of symptoms and quicker disease progression.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may consider becoming a caregiver. This is a full-time job that’s typically not easy but can be very rewarding.
Being a caregiver takes many skills. These include patience perhaps above all, as well as creativity, stamina, and the ability to see joy in the role of helping someone you care about live the most comfortable life they can.
As a caregiver, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. With the responsibilities of the role can come an increased risk of stress, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. If you choose to assume the role of caregiver, you may need to enlist the help of professional caregivers as well as family members to help.