Established in Windsor in 1981, the Alzheimer Society of Windsor and Essex County is dedicated to serving those with Alzheimer’s disease, and related dementia and their caregivers in the community. There are currently over 6100 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia in Windsor and Essex County. It is projected that these numbers will double within 25 years. Over 100 years after of discovery, there is still no known cause or cure. What is known, is that this disease can affect anyone.
1 / 1
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer's disease is irreversible and destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified the disease in 1906. He described the two hallmarks of the disease: "plaques," which are numerous tiny, dense deposits scattered throughout the brain that become toxic to brain cells at excessive levels, and "tangles," which interfere with vital processes, eventually choking off the living cells. When brain cells degenerate and die, the brain markedly shrinks in some regions.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behaviour.
Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die.
Dementia is not a specific disease. Many diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia (due to strokes), Lewy Body disease, head trauma, fronto-temporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. These conditions can have similar and overlapping symptoms.
Some treatable conditions can produce symptoms similar to dementia, for example, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disease, sleep disorders, or mental illness. It is therefore important to arrange for a full medical assessment as early as possible.
Getting a timely diagnosis can help you access information, resources and support through the Alzheimer Society, benefit from treatment, and plan ahead.
The effects of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease that eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life: how they think, feel, and act. Each person is affected differently. It is difficult to predict symptoms, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of their progression.
The following are some of the changes you may expect as the disease progresses.
Cognitive and functional abilities: a person’s ability to understand, think, remember and communicate will be affected. This could impact a person’s ability to make decisions, perform simple tasks, or follow a conversation. Sometimes people lose their way, or experience confusion and memory loss, initially for recent events and eventually for long-term events.
Emotions and moods: a person may appear apathetic and lose interest in favourite hobbies. Some people become less expressive and withdrawn.
Behaviour: a person may have reactions that seem out of character. Some common reactions include repeating the same action or words, hiding possessions, physical outbursts and restlessness.
Physical abilities: the disease can affect a person’s coordination and mobility, to the point of affecting their ability to perform day-to-day tasks such as eating, bathing and getting dressed.
There are several medications that can help with symptoms such as memory decline, changes in language, thinking abilities and motor skills. Although there is still no cure for Alzheimer's disease, those who respond to these treatments can experience improvements in their quality of life for several years.
Information provided by:
Alzheimer's Society of Windsor & Essex County
2135 Richmond Street,
Windsor, Ontario N8Y 0A1