|Areas of the Brain Affected by Alzheimer's Disease|
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- Plaques—Abnormal deposits of a substance called beta amyloid in different areas of the brain
- Neurofibrillary tangles—Twisted fibers (called tau fibers) within the nerve cells
- Age: 65 and older
- Previous serious, traumatic brain injury
- Lower educational achievement
- Obesity in middle-age
- Down's syndrome
- Down's syndrome in a first-degree relative
- Women under age 35 who give birth to a child with Down's syndrome
- Family history of Alzheimer's disease
- Presence of a certain type of protein (APOE-e4)
- Elevated levels of homocysteine
- Heart disease
- Early—Loss of memory, reasoning, understanding, or learning, but does not interfere with independence
- Intermediate—Increased mental loss, personality changes, and increased dependence on others for basic needs
- Severe—Loss of personality and bodily functions with total dependence on others for care
Increasing trouble remembering things, such as:
- How to get to familiar locations
- What the names of family and friends are
- Where common objects are usually kept
- How to do simple math
- How to do usual tasks, such as cooking, dressing, bathing, etc.
- Having difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Having difficulty completing sentences due to lost or forgotten words (may progress to complete inability to speak)
- Forgetting the date, time of day, or season
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Having mood swings
- Being withdrawn, losing interest in usual activities
- Having personality changes
- Walking in a slow, shuffling way
- Having poor coordination
- Losing purposeful movement
- Neurological exams—Tests of your nervous system
- Psychological and mental status testing
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Blood tests and urine tests
- Lumbar puncture —To test for levels of certain brain proteins that increase with Alzheimer’s disease and to rule out other disorders
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan of the brain—A test that makes images showing activity in your brain
Medications for Symptoms and Disease Progression
- Cholinesterase inhibitors—Recommended for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease (donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine)
- N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist—For moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease (memantine)
- Creating an environment in which you can receive the care you need
- Keeping your quality of life as high as possible
- Keeping yourself safe
- Helping yourself learn to deal with the frustration of your uncontrollable behavior
- Providing a calm, quiet, predictable environment
- Providing appropriate eyewear and hearing aids, and easy-to-read clocks and calendars
- Playing quiet music
- Doing light, appropriate exercise to reduce agitation and relieve depression
- Encouraging family and close friends to visit frequently
- Confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations
Alzheimer's Association http://www.alz.org
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
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- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2013 -