|Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer's disease (AD), which initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
The disease usually begins after age 65, and risk goes up with age. While younger people may also get AD, it is much less common. Scientists think that as many as 4.9 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from AD. Of these men and women, about 2 percent are ages 65 to 74, 19 percent ages 75 to 84, and nearly half of those age 85 and older have the disease.
AD has no known cure, and the secrets to preventing it are not yet known. For some people in the early or middle stages of AD, medication may slow down some symptoms.
|Seven Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease |
1. Asking the same question over and over again.
2. Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.
3. Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards — activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.
4. Losing one's ability to pay bills or balance one's checkbook.
5. Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.
6. Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
7. Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.
* Reprinted with the permission of The Suncoast Gerontology Center, University of South Florida. Revised 9/01/99.