Alzheimer's disease (AD), also called Alzheimer disease or simply Alzheimer's, is the most common cause of dementia, afflicting 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer's is a progressive and terminal disease for which there is currently no cure. In its most common form, it occurs in people over 65 years old (although a less-prevalent early-onset form also exists). It usually begins many years before it is eventually diagnosed. In its early stages, short-term memory loss is the clearest symptom: this leads to confusion, anger, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss, and the general withdrawal of the sufferer as his or her senses decline. Gradually the sufferer loses minor, and then major bodily functions, until death occurs. Although the symptoms are common, people commonly experience them in a unique way. The duration of the disease is estimated as being between 5 and 20 years.
Little is known about the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, other than that it is known to be linked to plaques and tangles in the brain. Currently, for diagnosis to happen, the symptoms have to become prevalent enough to be reported to a doctor, where Alzheimer’s must then be suspected, and then identified - usually via behavioural reports and cognitive tests, and often followed by a brain scan. A complete diagnosis can only be made after autopsy. Many possible causes and potential cures of the disease have been conjectured, with varying evidence supporting each claim. It is not known whether the more effective treatments actually slow-down the disease, or simply manage the symptoms. Nothing has been found to stop or reverse the disease. “Prevention” is a common byword in treatment, as it cannot be accurately determined how far the disease has progressed on diagnosis, and the available drugs are believed by many to only work effectively on the 'mid' to 'later' stages of the disease. Doctors commonly recommend mental stimulation, exercise and a balanced diet as preventative measures that can also act as a form of treatment too.
Alzheimer's disease is known for effecting a high burden on caregivers. Reported symptoms of carer-suffering are pressure-related stress, over-work, depression, and being physically struck. Despite this, many choose to care for their loved-ones to the end. The Social cost of Alzheimer's has in recent years made headline news in Western countries, with those of aging populations talking of an impending “Alzheimer’s epidemic.” Governing bodies have differing opinions on the value and effectiveness of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the disease, and of the value, cost and subsidy of care.~
(Content is General information from various sources including Wikipedia)
This section focuses on Alzheimer's as it effects elders and their caregivers.
Dementia - Altzheimers