As we step into the second full week of June, we are shedding a light on individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and the families and caregivers that care for those individuals. Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia, causing issues with memory, behavior, and thinking. Although the majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65, early onset Alzheimer’s effects those younger than 65.
Dementia is the overall term that describes the loss of brain function causing decline in problem solving, memory and insight into issues thus reducing one’s ability to perform everyday activities. Two of the most common types of Dementia are Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia.
Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most common types of Dementia and accounts for 60% - 80% of overall cases and is a progressive disease, meaning, symptoms worsen over time. The brain has numerous different regions that are responsible for different functions including memory, movement, and judgement. When the cells in these regions cannot communicate with other cells and carry out their specified functions, this results in communication, memory, and behavioral issues.
Although some memory loss is common with aging, Alzheimer’s is not part of the normal aging process. To differentiate between aging and the disease, look out for these signs and symptoms:
Like many diseases, increased risk of Alzheimer’s can be effected by a variety of factors. The most important risk factors can’t be changed, so it’s important to be aware of these factors and help influence the ones that can be changed.
Alzheimer’s typically effects those ages 65 and older, and one in nine people in this age group are over the age of 85. Even though many individuals are older, it is possible for younger individuals to get the disease.
Individuals with parents, brother, or sisters are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. If more than one person in your family has had Alzheimer’s, the risk of developing the disease increases further. When a disease tends to run in a family, environmental factors or genes could play a role.
There are two categories of genes that influence whether someone develops the disease or not – risk genes and deterministic genes. Unfortunately, researchers have found Alzheimer’s in both types of genes.
Risk Genes – The genes that increase the risk of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will be developed
Deterministic Genes – The genes that directly cause a disease, guaranteeing that an individual that inherits the gene will develop the disease at some point
When Alzheimer’s is caused by deterministic genes, the disease is called autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s Disease (ADAD), or commonly known as familial Alzheimer’s Disease. Individuals with this type of Alzheimer’s begin to develop symptoms as young as their 40s and 50s.
If you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s, Salter Healthcare has long-term care options. To schedule an admissions tour, please fill out our admissions inquiry form or contact us at (781) 729-2200 with any questions.