Alzheimer's Disease

It can be one of the most emotionally painful diseases for you or a loved one. But there’s good news: You have some of the best minds in neuroscience on your side.

We know this is incredibly difficult. We're with you.

Alzheimer’s Onset

It can be one of the most painful diseases to watch a loved one develop – and is equally frightening if you notice the early symptoms in yourself. Alzheimer’s disease usually begins with trouble remembering things that happened recently. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe and affect more areas of the person’s life. Language can become confused, they’re likely to suffer from mood swings and may get lost easily. Self-care might become a struggle, and as the disease continues to worsen they’re likely to begin withdrawing from society.

There Is Good News

This devastating disease affects approximately five million people in America and is the most common cause of dementia. But the good news is you have some of the best minds in neuroscience on your side. Together with INTEGRIS Health physicians, neuroscientists, therapists and experts, we’ll do all we can to forestall the disease, alleviate the symptoms and give you as many wonderful years as we can with your loved one.

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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease causes changes in behavior and thinking known as dementia. The following are the most common symptoms, but not everyone has all of these symptoms and they may resemble other health conditions or problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis:

  • Memory loss that affects job skills, especially short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty doing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Poor judgment
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of desire to do things
  • Difficulty recognizing people

No single test can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor will begin by ruling out other conditions. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease is to examine the brain after death. It’s important to find out if the dementia is caused by an illness that can be treated. Your doctor will perform thorough exams including:

  • Complete Health History: This may include questions about overall health and past health problems. The doctor will see how well the person can do daily tasks and may ask family members about any changes in behavior or personality.
  • Mental Status Test: This is a test of memory, problem solving, attention, counting and language.
  • Standard Medical Tests: These may include blood and urine tests to find possible causes for the problem.
  • Brain Imaging Tests: CT, MRI or position emission tomography (PET) may be used to rule out other causes of the problem.

At this time, Alzheimer disease has no cure. There is no way of slowing down the progression of this disease, and no treatment is available to reverse the changes that the disease brings on. But new research findings give reason for hope. Several medicines are being studied in clinical trials to see if they can slow the progress of the disease or improve memory for a period of time. Treatments for Alzheimer’s include:

  • Medicines: Used to help people maintain mental function and carry out daily activities. These include Donepezil, Rivastigmine, Galantamine and Memantine. Other medications are available to help manage some of the most troubling symptoms of Alzheimer disease, such as depression and behavior and sleep problems.
  • Keeping Healthy: Exercise and social activities are important to help manage the disease. So are good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and a calm and well-structured environment.
  • Caregiving Over Time: A person with Alzheimer’s will need more caregiving over time. Talk with your physician and care team about caregiving resources.
  • Rehabilitation: Occupational, physical and speech language therapists can help to manage daily living activities and cognitive, communication, and swallowing challenges associated with Alzheimer’s.  Learning strategies and therapeutic techniques so that our patients and caregivers can minimize the effects of Alzheimer’s and improve quality of life.

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