Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that persists and gets worse over time, affecting memory, thinking, and behavior.
There are two different types of Alzheimers, early and late onset. Early onset begins before age 60, is less common, and progresses rapidly. Late onset is the more common form, and develops in people older than 60.
1. dementia (dement/ia): [dement—insanity, madness] [-ia—condition] loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.
There can be multiple causes and risks for Alzheimer’s disease. The most well-proven causes are age and family history. As people get older, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s get higher. Also, if you have a blood relative that has or had Alzheimer’s, your risk will increase as well.
Other risks include high blood pressure, previous intracranial injury, and being female. These factors, however, are not as well proven as the ones above.
2. intracranial (intra/crani/al): [intra—within, into] [crani/o—skull] [-al—pertaining to] within the skull
Someone with Alzheimer’s disease will experience difficulty with many different normal cognitive functions including language, memory, perception, and cognitive skills. He or she may have personality changes and lose social skills, among other symptoms.
As the disease progresses, someone with Alzheimer’s disease will then lose a sense of who he or she is, have difficulty reading or writing, lose interest in social situations, resort to violence, have delusions, depression, agitation, and other symptoms.
As the disease reaches its final stages, he or she may suffer aphasia, know who their family members are, have hallucinations, or even be able to take basic care of themselves.
3. cognitive (cogni/tive): [cogn—know, learn] The part of mental functions that deals with logic.
4. aphasia (a/phasia): [a—no, not, without] [-phasia—speech] Difficulty understanding the speech of others and/or expressing oneself verbally.
5. hallucination (hallucin/ation): [hallucin/o—hallucination] A sensory experience in which a person can see, hear, smell, taste or feel something that is not there.
Alheimer’s disease unfortunately has no cure or treatment. The only thing that treatment can help with is to slow the progression of the disease and provide support for the person with the disease. Progression can be slowed with drugs, although they have various side effects that may be worse than not using the drug at all.
There is currently no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s. However, if you have a family history of dementia, certain precautions can be taken so that you can avoid if possible. Certain precautions include consuming a low-fat, healthy diet, stay mentally and socially active throughout your life, and stay in shape to maintain a normal blood pressure.