Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. The Alzheimer’s Association said that 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s.“Symptoms include memory changes or loss,” said Mary Sadler, FNP-C, with Trinity Health Neurology. “Initially, it will be to recent events, then it will progress.”
Other symptoms include:
- Decreased organization
- Difficulty multitasking
- Avoiding social interactions
- Changes in behavior, such as agitation or lack of emotion
- Reduced ability to recognize own deficits while family or friends notice
- Difficulty sleeping
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s tend to first appear in most people in their mid-sixties, The National Institute on Aging stated. While estimates vary, experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. “As people age, there is an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” Sadler said.
If you feel you are showing symptoms, speak to your primary healthcare provider, who can then refer you to neurology specialists for testing. Usually, multiple health issues need to be ruled out, Sadler said. Possible causes of memory changes can include mental health issues like depression; medications that could cause a change; medical issues such as low B-12 or an infection; or other types of dementia such as Lewy Body Dementia, which can be seen in Parkinson’s, frontal temporal, vascular, or alcohol related memory changes.
Once a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s is made, the patient works together with care providers, family, and friends to address needs, symptoms, and future plans.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; recent estimates, though, suggest that it ranks third – behind heart disease and cancer – as a cause of death for older people, the National Institute on Aging said. While Alzheimer’s itself is not the cause of death, it causes complications, such as infections or blood clots, which lead to death.
Trinity Health Neurology includes Rosina Medel, MD, and Mary Sadler, FNP-C. Their offices are located at Health Center – East, Ste 303, 20 Burdick Expy W, Minot.