Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain that affects memory and cognition. It is a relatively common disease, affecting millions of individuals worldwide.
Symptoms generally appear later in life and slowly worsen over time. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing it and slow its progression.
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What is Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's is a brain disease that affects memory, cognition, and in later stages motor skills. Alzheimer's is one type of dementia. Dementia is a term which describes a range of symptoms relating to the loss of mental ability.
Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause for death in the United States. There are multiple factors which affect the risk for developing the disease including age, diet, and family history.
While there is no way to reverse Alzheimer's, there are many ways to reduce the risk of developing it and to slow its progression.
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Who Develops Alzheimer's
Hundreds of thousands of people develop Alzheimer's every year. There is no single factor which determines if an individual will or will not develop the disease.
Instead the likelihood of developing the disease is determined by a number of risk factors. Some of these risk factors are controllable, like heart health or substance use, and others are non-controllable, like age or family history.
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Many Factors That Affect Alzheimer's Risk are Controllable
Individuals often ask us what they can when non-controllable factors place them at a higher risk. Unfortunately, we can't change our age or family history, but fortunately there is a lot that we can change.
Individuals who are at a higher risk due to non-controllable factors should be more proactive about reducing their risk that stems from controllable factors.
Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
Because Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain, its symptoms are related to mental ability, like memory and thought. Symptoms generally appear after the age of 60, but can appear earlier, as is the case with early-onset Alzheimer's.
At the beginning of Alzheimer's, symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from normal age-related memory loss. Individuals often make the mistake of waiting until the disease progresses to begin trying to slow or treat it.
While the risk of Alzheimer's can be decreased and its progression can be slowed, it cannot be reversed. Individuals should begin treating and monitoring their memory loss as soon as a problem is suspected.
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Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer's
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing it and ways to slow its progression. Many of these prevention strategies are relatively simple and can lead to significant and lasting reductions in risk.
Once Alzheimer's has developed its progression can be slowed and treated, but it cannot be cured. Individuals at a higher risk for developing the disease and individuals experiencing memory loss should take action as early as possible.
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