Symptoms vary. Alzheimer's progress depends on the individual and the affected brain areas. A person's abilities may fluctuate from day to day or even within the day, becoming worse in times of stress and, fatigue, and ill health. The one constant: deterioration over time. The early stages are not immediately obvious and may be dismissed as " a passing phase." The following may be noticed:
- It takes longer to do tasks - The person loses the point of conversation, repeat himself, forget well-known people or places, cannot process questions and instructions, becomes emotionally unpredictable, and slowly loses manual, social, and language skills.
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties - especially of recent events. These are often associated with personality change such as aggression or obsession, vagueness in every conversation, and apparent loss of enthusiasm for activities or giving up certain activities.
- Te person may be unaware of the severity of his problems - This lack of insight is a part of the disease.
- In more advanced stages, physical symptoms such as weight loss and incontinence may occur.
- Previously well-learned information and skills may be lost: how to dress, eat, walk, and when to sleep.
- New behaviors may happen, such as hallucinations or misinterpretations.
- Low education levels - Some studies show that low education levels can be related to an increased risk for alzheimer, although the reason is not clearly understood.
- Head injury - There is a strong link between seroius head injury and the risk of developing Alzheimer's
- Down syndrome - Having down syndrome or a family history of down syndrome has increased risk for Alzheimer's, although the exact reasons are not known.
- Sex - Women have slightly greater chance of developing Alzheimer's than men, despite women's longer life span. Scientists are studying if hormone replacement therapy can reduce this risk.
- Factors linked to heart disease and stroke - New studies suggest that the risk of developing Alzheimer's increases in conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels. These disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol.
- Family history - Being a first degree relative (child, brother, sister, parent) of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's increase the risk for developing the disease.
- Increasing Age - People over the age of 65 have one in eight chance of developing Alzheimer. Estimates show that the prevalence of moderate to sever dementia is 5 percent for people 65 to 79, about 16 percent for people 80 t0 84, and over 24percent for people 85 and older. Although Alzheimer's occurs mostly in the 70's and 80's, it can appear in people showing early symptoms of dementia.
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