It’s a dreaded moment. As soon as an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is given, lots of questions emerge in the minds of family and friends. To provide the best care for the diagnosed individual, education about the disease and proper caregiving techniques are essential.
Who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease?
- Familial or early-onset Alzheimer’s is caused by a gene mutation that is inherited from a parent, but only occurs in less than five percent of patients and develops between the ages of 30 and 60.
- Late-onset Alzheimer’s typically develops after age 60 and is the most common form of the disease. Currently it is difficult to determine exactly who is at risk for developing late-onset Alzheimer’s, but studies show that increasing age is the most important known risk factor.
- Alzheimer’s disease’s definitive cause is not known and no clear pattern of inheritance has yet been discovered, but scientists have identified genes that may influence the risk of contracting the disease. Researchers are also studying education, diet, and other factors to see if they play a role in developing the disease.
What changes in the brain happen to people with Alzheimer’s disease?
- People with Alzheimer’s disease develop abnormal clumps in their brains (called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (called neurofibrillary tangles).
- As increasingly more plaques and tangles form, healthy nerve cells begin to lose their ability to communicate with each other and eventually die. As the nerve cells die, brain tissue begins to shrink.
Are there treatments available for Alzheimer’s disease?
- While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are medications that can help to control some symptoms such as depression, aggression or hallucinations. However, some of these medicines can react badly with other Alzheimer’s medicines as well as worsen other symptoms of the disease.
- Keep in mind that many Alzheimer’s symptoms are caused by non-medical “triggers”, which can oftentimes be managed without the use of medications. Modifying the environment to reduce potential stressors plays a large part in helping a person with Alzheimer’s feel calm and safe.
At Live Free Home Health Care of New Hampshire, our talented in-home caregivers have years of experience dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and are happy to answer additional questions. Contact us today at 603-217-0149 to find out more about our in-home care offerings and learn if home care is a good fit for your situation.