What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of people with dementia.
- Alzheimer’s disease damages the brain and in turn impaired memory, thinking and behaviour
- The biggest risk factor for having Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age and 1 in 4 people over 85 have dementia
- Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (the first type) can affect anyone of any age
- Familial Alzheimer’s disease (the second type) is a very rare genetic condition, caused by a mutation in one of several genes
Alzheimer’s disease was first recorded in 1907 by Dr Alois Alzheimer. He reported on his patient Auguste Deter, a middle-aged woman with dementia and specific changes in her brain. In the 60 years that followed Alzheimer’s disease was considered a rare condition that affected people under the age of 65. It was not until the 1970s that Dr Robert Katzman concluded that “senile dementia” and Alzheimer’s disease were the same condition and neither was a normal part of aging.
What are Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are often quite subtle, such as lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects. Symptoms vary and the disease progresses differ depending on the individual and the brain areas that are affected.
Common symptoms may include:
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
- Vagueness in everyday conversation
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease, and is often not able to be treated by any one drug or intervention. Current approaches focus on helping people maintain mental function, manage behavioral symptoms, and slow or delay the symptoms of disease. Speech pathologist often works with Alzheimer’s patients that have difficulty with word finding and conversational storytelling by implementing strategies to assist with their deficits. Speech pathologists are also often involved in the management and treatment of swallowing difficulties.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you or someone you know needs speech therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.