Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia. Perhaps more alarmingly, that number is expected to reach 132 million by 2050. Dementia is often divided into two types: cortical and subcortical dementia. This refers to the location where the dementia originates. Cortical dementia is located in the brain’s cerebral cortex, which is involved in memory, language, emotion and other functions. Alzheimer’s disease is a cortical dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease
The Alzheimer’s Association defines the disease as a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s is not the only diagnosis for people with memory impairments, but it is the most common cause of dementia. About 60% to 80% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss is a common part of aging, but Alzheimer’s is not just linked to age, and is not a normal part of aging. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatments for symptoms are available and research is ongoing.
Another common condition that can affect people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is called sundowners syndrome. Seniors with this condition can experience confusion, frustration and agitation that becomes more acute in the evenings. Diminishing evening light can frighten or confuse people with this dementia.
Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Not all age-related memory loss is an indication of Alzheimer’s. Misplacing keys, forgetting names and other everyday annoyances are common. Here’s a look at typical age-related changes and how they relate to signs of Alzheimer’s, according to alz.org:
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Confusion with dates, seasons and passage of time
Difficulty completing daily tasks
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
New problems with words in speaking or writing, or conversational repetition
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act
Care planning is essential to learning about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials, and support services. Yet too few people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are aware that Medicare covers care planning. The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would educate clinicians on Alzheimer’s and dementia care planning services available through Medicare. Learn more at alzimpact.org.