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MENTAL HEALTH

How to Identify and Treat Alzheimer���s

Dementia is a serious impairment of cognitive processes that disrupts or halts daily actions, and the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer���s, a degenerative disease in which brains cells slowly die off along with memory. Alzheimer���s worsens as it progresses and currently has no cure. It is important to understand the symptoms of�� Alzheimer���s so you can identify it when you perceive these traits in someone close to you.

Causes
The causes of Alzheimer���s are not fully understood, but many within the medical community are working to create a world without this disease. Many scientists contend that Alzheimer���s disease results from genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. When examined under a microscope, Alzheimer’s brain tissue reveals two irregularities: plaques and tangles. The Mayo Clinic reports that plaques are clusters of protein that damage cells by blocking communication, whereas tangles of tau protein prevent essential nutrients from traveling throughout the brain.

Symptoms
The Alzheimer���s Association says there are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer���s: memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding images of spatial relationships, new problems with words, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, poor judgment, withdrawal from work or social life and changes in personality. The association recommends scheduling an appointment with your doctor if you detect any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one.

Testing
Doctors can administer exams to identify the cause of a patient���s dementia with approximately 90 percent accuracy, according to the Mayo Clinic. The doctor will perform physical and neurological examinations to inspect muscle strength and reflex, as well as your memory and thinking abilities. Sometimes more extensive testing may be necessary. Various brain imaging technologies allow medical professionals to identify irregularities associated with Alzheimer���s.

Management
There is no cure for Alzheimer���s yet. This is one of the reasons it is very important to raise awareness about the disease, so it can receive adequate funding and support. Several medications control and slow the detrimental effects of the disease. These include Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride), Exelon (rivastigmine), Razadyne (galantamine hydrobromide) and Namenda (memantine HCI). Since no two people experience the disease the same way, different procedures should be outlined for each case. You will need to talk to your doctor to plan the most effective care-giving plan for you and your family. There are many organizations dedicated to making life with Alzheimer���s as fulfilling as it can be. Alzheimer���s Foundation of America, the Alzheimer���s Association and Alzheimer���s Disease International provide excellent information about managing the disease and staying in touch with the larger community.