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Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, and it accounts for 60% to 80% of all dementia cases. One in 10 people over the age of 65, and almost 50% of people over the age of 85, have Alzheimer’s disease. The risk factor for developing the disease increases every decade as we age. The Alzheimer’s Association also estimates that there will be 106 million people worldwide with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050.

While the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s may vary from person to person, memory problems are commonly the first sign of cognitive impairment. A decline in non-memory aspects of cognitive function – such as finding the right word or impaired judgment or reasoning – may also signal the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, the symptoms grow more pronounced and the cognitive difficulties become more acute. To help understand Alzheimer’s, it helps to know the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease. These include:

  1. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  2. Confusion with place or time
  3. Challenges in understanding spatial relationships and visual images
  4. Poor judgment
  5. Misplacing things
  6. New and emerging problems with writing or speaking words
  7. Changes in personality or mood
  8. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  9. Withdrawal from social activities
  10. Challenges in problem-solving

Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

While age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, there are other things that can potentially make some individuals more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. So far, research has linked Alzheimer’s disease with:

  • Gender. Women are at greater risk of developing the disease than men.
  • Age. For most people, risk factors begin to increase significantly after age 65.
  • Down syndrome. People with this condition are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s in their 30s or 40s.
  • Family history. Anyone who has a parent or sibling with the disease is more likely to develop Alzheimer’s themselves.
  • Head injury. Some studies have indicated a link between Alzheimer’s disease and major head injury.
  • Health factors. Individuals with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels may have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to these risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, it is estimated that nearly 40% of dementia cases have a link to these eight risk factors:

  1. Smoking
  2. Diabetes
  3. Obesity
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Poor diet
  6. Lack of physical activity
  7. High alcohol consumption
  8. Low cognitive engagement levels

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

At this time, doctors and researchers do not have a definitive idea what causes Alzheimer’s or a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are some theories about what may be happening in Alzheimer’s disease.

The human brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells as well as other cells. The nerve cells work together to fulfill all the communications needed to perform such functions as thinking, learning, remembering and planning. In brains that develop Alzheimer’s disease, scientists believe that amyloid protein builds up in the brain cells, forming larger masses called plaques. Twisted fibers of another protein called tau form into tangles. As the disease develops, these plaques and tangles block the communication between nerve cells, which prevents them from carrying out their normal processes. The ongoing death of the nerve cells, starting in one area of the brain, then spreading to other areas, results in the symptoms seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

About Bright Oaks of Aurora

To help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, many families choose memory care. Memory care provides a safe, secure and stimulating environment for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to live, enjoy daily activities, focus on health and remain safe in their living spaces. At Bright Oaks of Aurora, we focus on forward-thinking care to help stimulate our residents and keep them engaged, mentally and physically. We are proud to offer our Courtyard Memory Care program that customizes each person’s care with their personal routines, hobbies, likes, dislikes, past experiences and physical skills. When a new resident moves in to Bright Oaks, they complete a life history survey to help the care team to create the right lifestyle, daily activities, meal planning and level of care needed to help them find success and happiness.

Interested in learning more about Bright Oaks of Aurora? Contact us to learn more about our community and our care and to schedule a tour!