Signs, Effects & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Cross Creek Hospital helps children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with Alzheimer’s through an unmatched quality of care and support. Located in Austin, TX, Cross Creek is the leading provider of Alzheimer’s treatment.

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Learn more about Alzheimer’s treatment at Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, TX

A disease that is characterized by the progressive destruction of memory and other cognitive functions, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia, which is a group of brain disorders that causes the loss of both intellectual and social skills. Individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will experience a loss of brain cells as those cells slowly degenerate and die, which is what causes the decline in memory and other mental capabilities. These individuals usually have significant problems with things such as planning, communicating, and reasoning. Furthermore, this disease worsens over time, eventually leaving an individual unable to take care of him or herself on a daily basis. This means that these individuals will require a caregiver to help them with even the most mundane of tasks, including bathing, dressing, or feeding themselves.

While there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are a number of treatment options, including medication and symptom management strategies, which may temporarily improve symptoms. For this reason, supportive services should be sought as early as possible in order to prolong an individual’s ability to live a high quality, independent life for as long as possible.

Statistics

Alzheimer’s disease statistics

Alzheimer’s disease, which is the 6th leading cause of death for adults in the United States, accounts for between 50% and 80% of all known cases of dementia. Furthermore, research has indicated that upon reaching the age of 65, an individual’s chance of developing this disease doubles about every five years. It is estimated that between 1% and 2% of people who are 70 years old suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with nearly 40% of the population meeting clinical criteria for a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by the age of 85. Additionally, research has shown that Alzheimer’s disease is much more prominent in females than it is in males, with estimated totals of approximately 3.2 million cases among women compared to 1.8 million cases in men.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease

As to date, research has been unable to determine an exact cause for why some individuals develop Alzheimer’s. However, most researchers believe that this disease is the result of a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that affect a person’s brain over time. The following are some of the most common explanations for the development of this disease:

Genetic: Many researchers in the field of dementia believe that one’s genetic makeup plays a significant role in whether or not an individual will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This suggests that this diseases is heritable in nature and, in fact, it is estimated that those with parents who have Alzheimer’s disease are 50% more likely to develop the symptoms of this disorder at some point in their life.

Environmental: It has been suggested that certain environmental factors and lifestyle choices can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, not exercising, smoking, having an unhealthy diet, and lacking healthy interpersonal relationships can all potentially put an individual at a higher risk for experiencing the onset of this disease.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other type of neurocognitive disorder
  • Being a woman
  • Past head trauma
  • High blood pressure
  • History of diabetes
  • History of coronary artery disease
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Increased age
  • High cholesterol
  • Having Down syndrome

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

When someone has Alzheimer’s disease, you may at first only recognize things such as increased forgetfulness or mild confusion but, over time, additional signs and symptoms will become more apparent. As the disease gets worse, an individual will develop several behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms that may be displayed in an individual with Alzheimer’s disease includes:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Making irrational accusations towards loved ones
  • Finding it difficult to adhere to directions and/or instructions
  • Requiring assistance in order to perform daily tasks
  • Inadequate social skills
  • Impaired communication
  • Constantly misplacing items
  • Wandering
  • Getting lost easily, even in places that were once familiar
  • Social withdrawal

Physical symptoms:

  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Impaired motor functioning
  • Tremors
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Frequent dizzy spells
  • Loss of muscle strength

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Psychosis
  • Impaired ability to reason
  • Impaired ability to use sound judgment
  • Loss of object recognition
  • Loss of facial recognition
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Delusions
  • Disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to focus
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of hostility
  • Changes in  personality
  • Distrust in others
  • irritability
  • Excessive agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of anger
  • Suicidal ideation

Effects

Effects of Alzheimer’s disease

When an individual is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, there are going to be a number of challenges that present themselves on a daily basis and, when proper treatment is not sought, these difficulties can become increasingly worse. However, it needs to be mentioned that even when proper treatment is put in place, due to the nature of this disease, the long-term effects will still get progressively worse. Examples of the possible long-term effects that can result from Alzheimer’s disease may include:

  • Isolation
  • Injuries from falls
  • Development of pneumonia and other infections
  • Permanent memory loss
  • Inability to effectively communicate
  • Dramatic changes in personality and temperament
  • Onset of aggressive behaviors
  • Disorientation of person, place, time, and/or situation
  • Losing the ability to recognize loved ones
  • Loss of the ability to independently perform tasks of daily living

Co-Occuring Disorders

Alzheimer’s disease and co-occurring disorders

When individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, it is not uncommon for them to experience symptoms of other mental health conditions as well. The most frequently known mental illnesses know to occur alongside Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal ideation

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Past Clients Say

My mother went into Cross Creek with Alzheimer’s and they took great care of her. Supporting and helping her and our family each step of the way.

– Former Patient