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Alzheimer Disease (cont.)

Alzheimer's Disease Follow-up

After a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and treatment has begun, the individual will require regular checkups with his or her health-care professional.

  • These checkups allow the health-care professional to see how well treatment is working and make adjustments as necessary.
  • They allow detection of new medical and behavior problems that could benefit from treatment.
  • These visits also give the family caregiver(s) an opportunity to discuss problems in the individual's care.

Eventually the person with Alzheimer's disease will become unable to care for himself or herself, or even to make decisions about his or her care.

  • It is best for the person to discuss future care arrangements with family members as early as possible, so that his or her wishes can be clarified and documented for the future.
  • Your health care provider can advise you about legal arrangements that should be made to ensure that these wishes are observed.

Alzheimer's Disease Prevention

There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Being alert for symptoms and signs may allow earlier diagnosis and treatment. Appropriate treatment can slow or relieve symptoms and behavior problems in some people.

Some experts think that education and other forms of intellectual challenge may have a protective effect against the disease. Individuals with low levels of education and mental/intellectual activity are said to be at a higher risk for the disease and to be more likely to have more severe disease, but this has not been proven conclusively.

Alzheimer's Disease Prognosis

Alzheimer's disease starts slowly but finally results in severe brain damage. People with the disease gradually lose cognitive functions, ability to carry out activities of daily living, and ability to respond appropriately to their surroundings. They eventually become completely dependent on others for care. These losses are inevitable, but the speed with which they occur varies from person to person and may be slowed down by treatment.

Alzheimer's disease is considered to be a terminal disease. The actual cause of death usually is a physical illness such as pneumonia. Such illnesses can be debilitating in a person who is already weakened by the effects of aging and the disease. On average, a person with Alzheimer's disease will live 8-10 years after the disease is diagnosed. Some people live for as long as 20 years with good nursing care.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Alzheimer Disease »

Alzheimer disease (Alzheimer’s disease, AD), the most common cause of dementia1, isan acquired cognitive and behavioral impairment of sufficient severity that markedly interferes with social and occupational functioning.

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