People are diagnosed with AD as young as 40 but the majority of cases are diagnosed when people are in their 60's and 70's. Some early signs are aphasia(loss of language ability), apraxia(loss of purposeful movement) like dressing yourself, agnosia(loss of ability to recognize objects), and memory loss. Initially, difficulty remembering names and where things have been placed(like car keys) may signal a problem. They may also exhibit mood changes(affect) and seem emotionally unstable.
AD has an idiopathic etiology but aluminum may play a role because at cranial autopsy high levels of aluminum have been isolated in the brain.
There is basically no treatment for this disorder.
Most of the cases do occur in people over the age of 65 but early onset alzheimer's does occur in people much younger, particularly often in people with a family history of the disease. There is a gut wrenching story about the disease that was aired on NPR a few years ago, the narrator was beginning to suffer the early symptoms at the age of 42.
Early signs are generally focused around memory and involve the inabilty to remember names and recent events. The disease is always fatal and as it progresses, patients begin to require full time care as they cannot even perform simple tasks for themselves.
According to the Alzheimer's Association there are ten signs that cannot be ignored. These are:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily living
- Difficulty in solving problems
- Difficulty completing normal, routine, daily tasks
- Confusion with time and/or space
- Vision problems
- Difficulty speaking and/or writing words
- Losing things
- Poor judgement
- Withdrawal from activities that were once enjoyable
- Changes in mood and personality
Alzheimer's is a very progressive disease that currently has no cure, although there are treatments available for symptoms. It is also the most common form of dementia. The term younger-onset refers to people who develop Alzheimer's before the age of 65. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 people in their 30's, 40's, and 50's have younger-onset Alzheimer's. It is much more common in individuals over the age of 65.