Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people age 65 and older, it is NOT a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and help manage its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the only disease in the top 10 without a cure or treatment.
What are the warning signs of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to irreversible mental impairment that destroys a person’s ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine. Research indicates that African-American family members recognize the value of having a diagnosis, long delays often occur between family members’ first recognition of symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and the scheduling of a medical evaluation. The same is true for people in other racial and ethnic minority groups.
Memory loss and confusion are NOT a natural part of aging.
Some key behaviors to note that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s or another dementia include