Welfare Notes - January 2006

January, 2006

Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia is a brain disorder that affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer’s disease. While more is being learned about Alzheimer’s disease every day, it is still not known what causes it, and there is no cure.

The disease usually begins after age 60, and the risk increases with age. While younger people may also get Alzheimer’s disease, it is much less common.

Alzheimer’s is a slow disease starting with memory loss. The course the disease takes and how fast changes occur vary from person to person.

The term dementia describes a group of symptoms that are caused by changes in brain function. Dementia symptoms may include: asking the same questions repeatedly, becoming lost in familiar places, being unable to follow directions, and neglecting personal safety and nutrition.

Dementia is caused by many conditions. Some conditions that cause dementia can be reversed and others cannot be reversed. Symptoms of dementia can be caused by high fever, dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition, or reactions to medicines. Personal difficulties may also cause confusion or forgetfulness. It is best to consult a doctor when symptoms occur to determine a diagnosis and course of treatment.

You can also contact the Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center for questions and publications: 1-800-438-4380.