Alzheimers Disease

Is it a disease or a disorder?

Alzheimers disease is a disorder that affects the brain. It affects a person's memory, learning abilities, sense of reasoning, communication skills and every day living. Eventually, individuals with Alzheimer's can lose all of their memory.

Alzheimers disease sometimes inaccurately referred to as Alzhiemers, has no known cause or cure. The course of the disease can last anywhere from 3-20 years. The average life expectancy after being diagnosed is 8 years.

While anyone can get Alzheimer's, especially in elder years where there is a 50 percent chance of having it at the age of 85, it can also have a strong genetic connection.

Families who have a strong history of the disease can see a family member in their 30's and 40's that are affected. Depending on how early the individual is diagnosed, they can still be able to do every day activities. 

What should be done following a diagnosis?

As a caregiver, what comes next?

Once an individual has been confirmed to have the disease, it may be hard to have a power of attorney or other legal agreements filed. It is important to have a will, a power of attorney and other legal documents in place well in advance.

This will give the caregivers of the individual the power to act in their best interests. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer's disease will not be able to make their own decisions.

Currently, there are not tests in place to detect Alzheimer's. Most physicians can now give an accurate diagnosis by examining the patient along with questions for family members. In some cases, an appointment can be made with a psychiatrist if your family doctor is still unsure.

While no medications can stop or reverse the disease, some can delay the decline in the individual with Alzheimer's.