Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Week - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital

 

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Week

Madison VA GRECC team

Madison VA GRECC team

By Joseph Aussem, Au.D CCC-A, Clinical Audiologist
Thursday, July 7, 2011

Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early-onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer's worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

Reference: "What is Alzheimer’s." Alzheimer’s Association. 1 July. 2011. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp#basics

If a patient or family members would like to be seen by a geriatrics physician or nurse practitioner in one of the Madison VA GRECC clinics, they need to be referred by someone within the VA at the time of entering the VA or by their regular VA provider.   See: Geriatric Care under Services

For clinical information call (608) 280-7011
for research information call (608) 263-2582 or (608) 280- 7000

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