Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

If you’re struggling with tasks that once came easily, you might have dementia, a form of memory loss. Dementia is the irreversible impairment or loss of intellectual functioning, including memory, thinking, judgment, language, behavior and personality. Dementia is not a single disease, but a group of symptoms with various causes. The most common form of dementia is senile dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Overview

Overview

Symptoms

Alzheimer’s symptoms tend to start out mild and get progressively worse over time. The signs of Alzheimer’s disease are similar to those of other forms of dementia, which include:

  • Trouble communicating
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings or personality changes
  • Getting lost 
  • Feeling confused
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

Most Alzheimer’s sufferers are 65 and older, but it’s possible to develop early onset Alzheimer’s as well.

Diagnosis

Some memory disorders can be caused by other medical conditions, so it’s important to work with an experienced team of experts to get help diagnosing Alzheimer’s or dementia. You'll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and for Alzheimer’s testing. Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan. You and your doctor will work together to review your Alzheimer’s symptoms, using assessments such as:

  • A neurological exam
  • A brain scan
  • Lab work
  • A psychiatric evaluation

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Treatment Options

Treatment Options

If testing indicates an Alzheimer's diagnosis, you'll get a personalized treatment plan that may include medications and lifestyle changes – including small changes like getting rid of clutter and exercising more.

While there is no cure, treatment for Alzheimer's disease includes medications that can help slow its progression and improve the quality of life for you and your caregivers.

With other types of dementia, identifying and treating an underlying condition can help reverse the symptoms. This is especially true if your dementia is caused by things like:

  • Immune system disorders or infections such as Lyme disease, leukemia, syphilis, meningitis or encephalitis
  • Thyroid problems
  • Dehydration
  • Alcoholism
  • Brain tumors
  • Reactions to medication
  • Poisoning
  • Heart and lung issues

To learn more about early onset Alzheimer's, the causes of Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's stages, and treatment options in Wisconsin and Illinois, use our Find a Specialist search tool to locate an Alzheimer's specialist near you.

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