About Alzheimer's & Dementia
An estimated 5.4 million people of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who in 1906 noticed changes in brain tissue of a deceased woman. The woman's symptoms included memory loss, language problems and unpredictable behavior. After examining her brain, he found many abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). These are two of the main features of Alzheimer's disease. The third is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. See video: Inside The Brain: Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer's symptoms on our Videos Page.
There are two distinct types of Alzheimer's disease. Late-onset Alzheimer's is the most common. It affects people over the age of 60 and although there does appear to be a hereditary component, the role of genes is not completely understood. Early-onset Alzheimer's can run in families and researchers have identified several genes that can lead to this rapidly-progressing form of the disease.
Early symptoms may include:
- difficulty performing tasks that take some thought but used to come easily, such as balancing a checkbook, playing complex games (such as bridge) and learning new information or routines
- getting lost on familiar routes
- language problems such as trouble finding the name of familiar objects
- losing interest in things previously enjoyed, flat mood
- misplacing items
- personality changes and loss of social skills
As the disease becomes more progressive, symptoms are more obvious and interfere with your ability to take care of yourself such as:
- change in sleep patterns-often waking up at night
- delusions, depression, agitation
- difficulty doing basic tasks such as preparing meals, choosing proper clothing and driving
- difficulty reading or writing
- forgetting details in your own life/history, losing awareness of who you are
- hallucinations, arguments, striking out and violent behavior
- poor judgement and loss of ability to recognize danger
- using the wrong word, mispronouncing words, speaking in confusing sentences
- withdrawing from social contact
People with severe Alzheimer's can no longer:
- understand language
- recognize family members
- perform basic activities of daily living such as eating, dressing and bathing
- swallowing problems
Treatment goals are to:
- slow the progression of the disease
- manage symptoms, such as behavior problems, confusion and sleep problems
- change your home environment so you can better perform daily activities
- support family members and other caregivers
A diagnosis of Alzheimer's does not mean that a person has to become completely reliant on others and give up their independence. Depending on individual needs and circumstances, with some assistive technology and support, many people manage to maintain much of their independence. "Assistive technology" is any means or product that enables a person to live more independently and makes essential daily tasks easier for both the patient and the family. We have done the research for you and designed these products with you in mind. Assistive technology ranges from very simple tools such as calendar clocks to high-tech solutions such as satellite navigation.
The benefits of assistive technology can promote independence, help manage potential risks in and around the home, reduce early entry into care homes and hospitals, facilitate memory and recall, reduce the stress on Caregivers and overall improve their quality of life. People with Alzheimer's have unique, special qualities like the rest of us. Remember, at one time they were as vital and bright as you are now. As you peruse our products, you will see items such as memory aids, medication aids and aids for reminiscence and leisure.