Exerpts from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Alzheimer's is a type of dementia with symptoms that begin with the erosion of memory, thinking and behavior. Slowly getting worse over time, patients lose the ability to coordinate basic motor skills such as swallowing & walking. Doctors say it could damage the parts of the brain that control breathing.

According to the National Vital Statistics Report (Oct. 10 2012) it is now the 6th leading cause of death. Projections show that nearly half of all persons over the age of 65 in Hawaii will have the disease. Alzheimer's also affects up to 5 percent of people in their 40s and 50s.

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of compare-brainspeople 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.

The disease 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. 

People in this conversation

Share This

Follow Us