Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common forms of dementia. It is estimated that ~55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, with 60%-70% of these cases being due to Alzheimer’s.
Scientists believe AD is caused by the accumulation of abnormal amounts of two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, in neurons, which ultimately leads to their death and a progressive loss of brain function. It is unclear what exactly triggers this accumulation process.
There is currently no cure for AD, although there are few treatments for managing some of the symptoms. Additionally, some lifestyle factors, such as exercising, low saturated fats diets, and higher education are associated with reduced rates of AD, as well as reduced symptom severity.
World Alzheimer’s Day is an international effort aimed at raising awareness and highlighting the struggles of AD sufferers. This year’s campaign is focused on the warning signs of AD.
A timely diagnosis is important because, on the one hand, it helps people better understand where their symptoms are coming from, and, on the other hand, it allows better planning for the future, as well as access to support resources.
Here are some of the most common warning signs:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems with language
- Disorientation to time and place
- Poor or decreased judgement
- Problems keeping track of things
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Trouble with images and spatial relationships
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
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