Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is it?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In Canada, Alzheimer’s disease is the number 7 most common cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease. The Alzheimer’s Association defines the disease as following:

“Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.“Dementia” is an umbrella term describing a variety of diseases and conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain (called neurons) die or no longer function normally. The death or malfunction of neurons causes changes in one’s memory, behaviour and ability to think clearly. In Alzheimer’s disease, these brain changes eventually impair an individual’s ability to carry out such basic bodily functions as walking and swallowing. Alzheimer’s disease is ultimately fatal.”

Receiving a medical diagnosis is often essential to receiving care. The symptoms that are looked for in order to make a diagnosis are:

  • Loss of memory
  • Decline in ability to speak coherently/understand others
  • Trouble identifying items
  • Decline in motor function
  • Inability to make sound judgements, or make plans
  • Confusion with time or space
  • Changes in mood or personality

If you think that your loved one may be displaying some of these symptoms, it is important that you bring your concerns to your/their physician. Many families are afraid of upsetting their senior loved one, and it can often be a difficult conversation, but bring a medical professional into the picture can be a great aid in confirming the need for a diagnosis, and answering any questions you will have.

The important thing is that you seek advice, so your family can be prepared for your journey with Alzheimer’s.