Psychological Services

Dementia and Aging: What is Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Facts about Alzheimer’s Dementia:

  • Affects more individuals over the age of 65 years
  • The number of people diagnosed with AZ is doubling every five years
  • At age 60 the incidence rate is 1%
  • At age 85 the incidence rate rises to over 40%
  • Alzheimer’s Dementia is known as the end stage of any type of brain insult or trauma
  • It can be genetic with a family history and identifying APOE-4 allele marker, SORL1 gene, TAU factor, cellular changes
  • Risk factor of poor sleep and insomnia
  • Some studies found the presence of mood change, depression and social withdrawal in more that 70% of those diagnosed with AZ for an average of two years
  • Mood changes, depression, social withdrawal, apathy has been found to occur in 70 percent of diagnosed AZ patients
  • A common issue with AZ is a lack of awareness or recognition of any cognitive problems.
  • Psychosis and agitation tend to be seen in the later stages of AZ.

Alzheimer’s Dementia is associated with:

  • Downs’ Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Females
  • Lower education and occupation
  • Hypertension in mid-life
  • Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Fragile personality/avoidant or reclusive personality
  • Toxicity, free radicals, medication interactions, brain infections
  • Chronic stress and inflammatory process
  • Lowered immune system response
  • HPA axis, problems with regulator
  • High caloric diet (increased life span with caloric restriction)
  • Exposure to general anesthesia
  • Poor cardiovascular health

Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia increases with:

  • Age, Obesity, Dietary fat, Diabetes Type I and II, Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Elevated homocysteine, depleted Vitamin B12
  • Sleep fragmentation, decreased REM sleep
  • Individuals married longer who lose a spouse
  • Early life stress

Thinking problems typically seen when there is Alzheimer’s Dementia:

  • Memory loss is immediately severe in the beginning stages
  • Misplaced objects- cannot find anything or remember where it normally can be found
  • No recall of conversations
  • An inability to learn anything new
  • Memory of the past remains intact
  • Visuospatial functioning is immediately affected resulting in the tendency to become lost in familiar places such as the grocery store
  • Route finding problem, cannot re-trace one’s steps, even in the home, all of a sudden everything looks different
  • Forgetting faces and names of people known for years, including immediate family
  • Unable to learn any new task such as operating a coffee pot that involves a procedure and use of memory
  • Continual loss of the right word to express a thought or to complete a sentence in conversation

Consider residential placement when the following symptoms occur regularly in day to day living:

  • Unable to use the telephone, to look up numbers, dial correctly and have a coherent conversation
  • Unable to grocery shop without getting lost or disoriented in the store, forgetting items, or becoming totally confused
  • Unable to prepare meals, unable to recall ingredients and most importantly, leaving the stove on
  • Leaving the water running in the bath, sink or shower
  • Unable to perform basic housekeeping tasks without becoming disoriented and confused or lost in the house
  • Unable to complete laundry and follow any step by step procedure
  • Unable to drive the car due to becoming lost
  • Unable to manage medication with correct dosage and time
  • Unable to handle finances, correct paying of bills and understanding of money