By Bernard Freeman
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be scary, and people often don’t know where to turn for information or even what questions to ask the doctor. The National Institute of Aging answered a number of the most frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Dementia is a loss of ability to think, remember and reasoning skills that progressively interferes with a person’s daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia; other types are frontotemporal disorders and Lewy body dementia.
What are the stages of Alzheimer’s?
- Preclinical: Symptoms are not obvious, but the brain cells are degenerating and dying.
- Early (mild): Symptoms like memory loss, confusion and inability to do previously easy tasks begin to appear. These symptoms don’t always point to dementia, but anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor.
- Middle: Memory loss and confusion worsens; people may have difficulty recognizing family and friends.
- Late (severe): Loss of ability to communicate, sleeping more, weight loss and difficulty walking, slowing and functioning appear. The person eventually becomes completely dependent on caregivers.
What is the treatment for Alzheimer’s?
Although there is no cure, the FDA has approved a number of drugs to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. There also are clinical and therapeutic treatments that can help control behavioral symptoms. There also are clinical studies taking place that help scientists study the brain during Alzheimer’s to find new prevention and treatment methods.
Scientists have not found any natural options that effectively treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Is there a way to prevent Alzheimer’s?
The short answer is no. Since we don’t know what causes most cases of Alzheimer’s, there’s no concrete way to prevent it. However, a healthy diet, regular exercise, keeping weight in check and quitting smoking, if you are a smoker, can lower the risk of all chronic diseases. Scientists also are looking at the role social activity and keeping the brain active may play in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s.
What if I can’t afford treatment?
People in the final stages of Alzheimer’s generally need full-time care, which can be difficult for family members who take on caregiving duties. Families may need additional financial help to pay for care. Eldercare Locator, the National Council on Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance are possible sources for financial assistance for people with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers.