By Darci L. Graves, Health Power Editor
When a parent or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s), the entire family experiences the disease. One (1) in eight (8) older adults has Alzheimer’s. That means one in eight families are going to mourn the loss of their loved one over a prolonged period of time. They grieve daily because their loved one is, at the same time, gone and yet standing or sitting in front of them.
African Americans and Latinos are more likely to have Alzheimer’s for a variety of reasons that are not fully known. Worse still, they are less likely to be diagnosed, and even when they are diagnosed, it’s likely to be at a later stage of the disease. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 5th cause among those age 65 and older.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases. In fact, the most outstanding sign of Alzheimer’s is dementia. Its characteristics include difficulty remembering names and recent events. Lack of interest and depression also often occur early. Later symptoms include poor judgment, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking, and as the disease advances, even wandering and getting lost.
It’s important to know, however, that everyone with dementia does not have Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the risk factors listed here, certain health conditions also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias including high blood pressure and diabetes, which are more common in African American and Latino communities. It’s important to remember that ‘risk factors’ are things that increase a person’s risk, or chances, of developing a specific disease.
Risk Factors for Dementia Include:
– Psychological Well-Being
– Educational Level
Much is still unknown about Alzheimer’s. In fact, research about its symptoms, causes, risk factors and possible treatments has only gained serious attention in the last 30 years.
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