During Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month in June, we sat down with our expert, Julie Livesay, FNP of Crossville Medical Group to get more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a broad term, generally used to indicate memory loss and confusion in the elderly population. It can be caused by a head injury, problems with the vascular system, such as a stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause for dementia, accounting for nearly 70% of all dementia cases.
What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease generally progresses slowly, and first signs include problems with short-term memory. In the beginning, most patients can hide the fact that they are getting more confused, but as the disease progresses, it becomes more apparent to family and friends. Over time, the ability for Alzheimer’s disease patients to perform even the most basic activities becomes impossible.
How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?
Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly diagnosed through process of elimination. Your healthcare provider will check for other causes of cognitive decline, such as infections and vitamin deficiencies. 100% confirmation of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis requires a sample of brain tissue from an autopsy.
Is there a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?
Studies show that you can prevent dementia by maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Good blood pressure increases blood flow to the brain, thus reducing your risk for stroke. Unfortunately, there is not definite way to prevent developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, ongoing research and genetic testing reveals that some population groups are more at risk than others. It is
Do you have any advice for caregivers?
Caring for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be challenging. These diseases slowly rob you of the person you once knew. It is imperative that you and your family have a strong support system, as well as respite. Most areas have Alzheimer’s disease support groups, and I would highly recommend joining those. Caregivers need to stay healthy and take the time to take care of themselves so that they can provide excellent care to their loved ones.