Alzheimer’s Disease

 OTTUMWA, IA – Millions of Americans are affected by a neurological disease called Alzheimer’s disease.  It is a disease of the brain cells where there is decreasing function and progressive debilitation.  It occurs most often in people over 65, but it does occur at younger ages too.

Some of the first symptoms are a loss of memory for recent events and difficulty in doing more complicated tasks.  Judgment becomes impaired and the person may have confusion and disorientation.  One of the most difficult symptoms of the disease is when a person has a change in personality.  Someone who has been very congenial all his life may become irascible and uncooperative, even abusive.  In the most severe stages of the disease, the person may be unable to take care of himself and completely unable to communicate with his family or friends.

In the later stages, the person is unable to recognize relatives, cannot do simple tasks and even has trouble with walking and coordination.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but other diseases that mimic it are often treatable.  Treatable causes include drug reactions, hypothyroidism, depression, head injuries, or poor nutrition.

The doctor will do a number of studies to evaluate the possibility of other illnesses which could be treated.  In addition to a full exam, he may order a CT scan, brain wave test, blood tests, and occasionally other tests.

There is no cure for the disease yet, but some medicines may help decrease the agitation, anxiety, and behavior problems associated with the disease.  It is also important to make sure the person gets good nourishment, exercise and hygiene.

For more information, please call Pennsylvania Place and The Haven Memory Care Unit at 641-684-4000.  The Haven has the only Certified Dementia manager in the region.