Alzheimer's disease is a fatal, progressive and degenerative disease that destroys brain cells. It is the most common form of dementia in Canada and the United States
A series of news articles suggest that Alzheimer's and Dementia will soon be a pandemic, a recent article in Time Magazine states that the disease will bankrupt the entire U.S. Medicare program. Canada will not be lagging far behind.
According to the latest date released by the Alzheimer's Association, this disease will cost the U.S. an estimated 200 billion in 2012. It will affect every family.
What is this disease? What causes it? And is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. Symptoms include having difficulty remembering things, making decisions and performing everyday activities. These changes can affect the way a person feels and acts.
When a person has Alzheimer's disease, several physical changes occur in their brain. Brain cells shrink - or disappear - and are replaced by dense, irregularly shaped spots called plaques. Threadlike tangles will also develop within existing brain cells, and will eventually choke and destroy healthy cells. As brain cells degenerate and die, the brain shrinks in some regions – a process that will continue over time.
As the disease advances and affects different areas of the brain, various abilities become impaired resulting in changes to abilities and/or behavior. Once an ability is lost, it is not known to return. (However, research is now suggesting that some relearning may be possible).
We do not yet know what causes Alzheimer's disease but researchers have identified risk factors associated with it.
The most important risk factor is aging. A minimum age needs to be reached for Alzheimer's disease to develop. People do not get the disease in their teenage years or even in their 20s.
There is no doubt that genetics play a role in the disease. Yet only a small percentage of cases is associated with the specific genes that cause the inherited form of the disease.
Research is being done on other factors such as existing diseases or conditions that the person may have, infections, toxins in the environment, education level, alcohol and tobacco use, diet and exercise.
For additional information on this disease, please visit the following links listed below.
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Time Health Land “Cost Of Alzheimer’s Care In the U.S.: 200 Billion http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/08/cost-of-alzheimers-care-in-the-u-s-in-2012-200-billion/#ixzz1teFPP9u4
Alzheimer’s Association of British Columbia, “Alzheimer’s Disease” http://www.alzheimerbc.org/getdoc/fcc0d319-95c6-4d66-88c0-20637f4b2e24/Alzheimer%E2%80%99s-Disease.aspx
Alzheimer’s Association of Canada “What Is Alzheimer’s Disease” http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/What-is-Alzheimer-s-disease