Answering Common Questions After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

May 25th, 2012

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis brings with it dozens of questions for the person receiving the diagnosis, for family members and caregivers. Having answers to some of these questions can help put a patient at ease and allow him or her to focus on coping. Here are some frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s disease, along with their answers.

What are the causes/risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s?

  • Research is still being conducted on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, and as of now, there is no definitive cause or pattern of inheritance. Studies show that chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, diet, exercise, and social engagement may play a role in whether or not a person develops the disease.
  • Familial or early-onset Alzheimer’s is caused by an inherited gene mutation, but only manifests in less than 5% of patients, developing between the ages of 30 to 60.
  • The late-onset form of the disease typically occurs after age 60. Studies show that increased age is a risk factor for this form of Alzheimer’s.

What changes happen in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Alzheimer’s patients develop amyloid plaques, or abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary tangles in their brains.
  • As these clumps and tangles multiply, healthy nerve cells die, which causes the brain tissue to shrink.

What treatments are available for Alzheimer’s disease?

  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, but there are medications that can help control the symptoms of depression, aggression, or hallucinations. It is very important to discuss the use of medications with your doctor, as some Alzheimer’s medicines can react negatively with one another.
  • Many symptoms are caused by non-medical triggers, such as environment, changes in routine, or from frustrations with the inability to communicate, and can often be managed without the use of medication.

While an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be overwhelming, the caring professionals at Visiting Angels can help answer your questions and bring you and your loved ones peace of mind. If you would like more information about how in-home care can benefit patients with Alzheimer’s, contact us in Alameda County at (510) 284-0000 or in Santa Clara County at (408) 735-0977.