As we age, brain changes can result in memory concerns. There are, however, some cognitive changes that are not part of the normal aging process, but may actually be the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder that destroys nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. As these neurons are destroyed, it results in memory loss and other problems with thinking (cognition) and behavior.
The disease is progressive, which means it gets worse over time. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase by 88 million by 2050.
Significant memory loss is not a normal part of growing older or aging. It is often one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. While other leading causes of death are on the decline, Alzheimer’s disease is very much on the rise. Even though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early evaluation and treatment may help prolong memory and improve the long-term quality of life. The research discovery gained through clinical trials offers hope for finding more effective future treatments and provides hope for a cure.
Common symptoms associated with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Forgetfulness: forgetting dates, events, names, misplacing or losing things, repeating stories, repeatedly asking the same question
- Trouble with names or word-finding: names of people, places, objects, movies, songs, etc.
- Difficulty with orientation: days of the week, the day’s date, the year, the time of day or seasons of the year
- Trouble completing routine activities: driving to a familiar location, cooking a favorite recipe, managing finances, using a computer or cell phone, managing medications, etc.