Alzheimer's disease attacks the brain, gradually destroying memories, ability to think, and even the ability to do small tasks. Alzheimer's starts slowly and gets progressively worse. It is currently the most common type of dementia seen in elderly adults today.
Dementia is a disease that has multiple forms, and Alzheimer's Disease is one of those forms. Dementia can be fairly mild or it can be very severe. Alzheimer's is among the most severe types of dementia. Dementias are often grouped into general categories of Alzheimer's dementia and non-Alzheimer's dementia today.
Alzheimer's Disease cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death. There is a specific pattern, plaques, and tangles in the brain tissue that clearly indicate Alzheimer's. This is discovered during a brain autopsy. Doctors are able to make a "probable" Alzheimer's disease diagnosis while a person is living, however. Diagnosing probable Alzheimer's requires an extensive medical history, continued patient observation, memory testing, problem-solving tests, attention testing, language skill tests, and counting tests. Some blood and urine tests may help diagnose Alzheimer's. Brain scans are typically part of forming a probable Alzheimer's diagnosis.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's at this time, there are specific medications that can help manage Alzheimer's symptoms available. Alzheimer's patients also need to stay as healthy as possible through lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of activities that engage the brain. For Alzheimer's patients, having a support system of family members, a primary care doctor for maintenance, and a neurologist for specialized needs and testing is critical for well-being as they manage their disease. Alzheimer's disease can be a difficult path, but a positive attitude and a team effort can truly make all the difference in terms of a patient's quality of life.
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