Worried about Alzheimer’s Disease? Are you at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD)? Here are some hints if you are in trouble.
In This Alzheimer’s Disease Article:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60-80 % of dementia cases. AD is an irreversible and progressive brain disease, with the most common symptom beginning with memory and difficulty remembering new information.
The field of aging and dementia is in particular focus today. When is it just aging? When is it dementia? When is it more than just absent-mindedness, yet not Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?Is there a premonitory state, a category of people who are at particular danger of developing Alzheimer’s Disease? The answer today is yes. Though not all of those fulfilling these symptoms will develop Alzheimer’s Disease, a majority will. Concentrating our efforts on this group may be important for prevention.
Dementia comes from two Latin words: “de,” meaning out of, and “mentis,” meaning mind. Therefore, dementia means to be out of one’s mind. The practical difference between natural aging and dementia is that an aging mind still has the ability to live independently. The demented mind, even with one’s best effort, cannot do so. One recognizes reality and the other one increasingly loses it.
Recent research has identified a transitional state between normal cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease. We call this Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Both clinical criteria and now imaging and laboratory criteria seem to overlap in distinguishing a segment of our population that is at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Studies have estimated that those fulfilling the criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment develop Alzheimer’s Disease at a rate of 17-20% per year.
However, not all develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Recognizing this group is important for both medical treatment and practical reasons. The practical reasons are that these individuals can make the proper choices for their future health care and life before they lose their ability to do so. Medical treatment, risk mitigation, and prevention are a must. Family, financial, and social support can begin to optimize their life, mitigate their being victimized by predators, and delay early entry in a nursing facility.
The criteria can be categorized into four main points. First, memories of recent events become vague and a reliance on old stories predominates. Second, behaviorally they become less fastidious and occasionally need to be reminded to groom. Third, though their judgment perception and reasoning is intact, there is a measurable difference noted by family and friends. Fourth, in comparison to their age related contemporaries, their reaction time and memory performance lags with heavy reliance on notes.
The dividing line between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease is not a line at all, but a grey zone often demarcated by an event that clearly indicates an inability to function independently or safely. It may be as apparent as an accident, a sudden episode of disorientation or hallucinations, or as subtle as forgetting an appointment. Once it begins, it slowly but insidiously worsens with peaks of lucidness and valleys of sudden deterioration.
About the Author: Dr. Vincent Fortanasce is a renowned bio-ethicist, author, and radio show host with twenty years experience dealing with medical issues on a national and international level. His rehabilitation center was ranked in the top 10 on the West Coast in 2003, and Dr. Fortanasce was selected as in the top 100 physicians in Los Angeles County and Best Physicians in the USA in 1998. Over the past decade, he has treated such notables as the Dali Lama and Pope John Paul II.
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