Those are just some of the warning signs. It affects a person’s brain. It can be debilitating, frustrating and even deadly.
“It’s the sixth most common cause of death, actually,” said Dr. Pedro Oliveira, a neurologist at the Baton Rouge Clinic. “Patients first start to have problems remembering important events, plans or conversations. They may notice that they’re repeating the same questions over and over.”
This week’s Women’s Wellness, we are talking about Alzheimer’s.
“This type of dementia affects people initially with memory problems. It will typically begin with people who have short term memory difficulties and gradually the memory problems get worse,” said Dr. Oliveira.
Dr. Oliveira tells me Alzheimer’s is most common over the age of 65, and genetics can play a role in getting it, but some people are more susceptible to the disease.
“African-Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, and also, patients who have a history of traumatic brain injury or cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” explained Dr. Oliveira. “Two-thirds of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women. The main reason for this is, number one, women live longer than men, and number two, hormonal influence from women may also play a role, such as estrogen.”
How is it treated?
“There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there’s active research in this. Currently, we have medications that can slow down the progression of the disease,” said Dr. Oliveira.
Is it preventable?
“There’s no clear answer for that yet, but we do know what lack a physical exercise and a poor diet can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. So incorporating a healthy diet may help you prevent Alzheimer’s disease, also being socially active, having strong social ties with your family and friends can also help you prevent Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Oliveira.
This disease isn’t just hard on the patient, but their families too.
“We always suggest for them to attend support groups, and their caregivers should really participate in that as well. We also recommend them to attend exercise programs and social functions,” concluded Dr. Oliveira.