Risk factors to consider
Although AD isn’t an expected part of advancing age, you’re at increased risk as you age. Adults over age 85 have nearly a 50 percent risk of developing this disease.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
They’ll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
There’s no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties. Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
The symptoms of AD may worsen over time. For many people, a period of two to four years will pass between the onset of symptoms and receiving an official diagnosis from the doctor. This is considered to be the first stage.
After receiving a diagnosis, you or a loved one may enter the second stage of the disease. This period of mild cognitive impairment can last anywhere from two to 10 years.
During the final stage, Alzheimer’s dementia may occur. This is the most severe form of the disease. You or a loved one may experience periods of total memory loss and may need help with tasks such as financial management, self-care, and driving.
If you or a loved one has AD, there are many resources available that can provide you with more information or connect you with face-to-face support services.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center offers an extensive literature database and has information about the most current research. The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiver Center also provides valuable information for caregivers about what to expect at each stage of the disease.
PREVALENCE OF ADEarly onset AD affects approximately 200,000 people in the United States.