Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by progressive destruction of specific brain cells in different parts of the brain. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease (Alzheimer’s) , affected persons have decreased memory and altered decision making that is often not noticeable at first, but progresses steadily. The reduced memory is followed later by increased difficulty in finding words to express oneself, poor judgment and more difficult social relationships. Other common signs are depression and paranoia or unjustified suspicion. Physical ability is usually good until the end stage.
Alzheimer’s is now the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and the incidence of Alzheimer’s is steadily increasing, especially in African-Americans. It occurs as often in men as it does in women. One in eight people 65 years of age or older has Alzheimer’s, and one-half of people 85 or older has the condition. In the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, a protein called beta-amyloid collects between the nerve cells. This protein interferes with brain function and triggers an immune response that destroys the brain cells.
Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, several medications currently being studied appear to slow progression of this condition. For more information on Alzheimer’s, visit Health Power’s Aging Health Channel and the Alzheimer’s Association, whose web site is one click away from their listing on our Relevant Resources Table.