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What is Alzheimer’s Disease?


As we age, we undergo a number of physiological changes, which affect not only how we look, but also how we function and respond to daily living. Our hair turns grey, our skin wrinkles, we often times have minor memory problems and slower thinking can occur. Individuals experience these changes differently – for some, the level of decline may be rapid and dramatic; for others, the changes are much less significant. When the memory loss is more serious, and is combined with confusion and mood changes, it may be Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease dementia is a progressive, degenerative brain disease and has no known cure. It is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease significantly impacts one’s ability to function cognitively and results in the deterioration or loss of everyday functions like speech and memory. Experts have developed “stages” to describe how a person’s abilities change from normal function through advanced Alzheimer’s. This seven-stage framework is based on a system developed by Barry Reisberg, M.D., clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. However, it is important to note that these “stages” are just general guides and symptoms vary greatly.

The stages begin with having no impairment (normal function), where the person does not experience any memory problems and does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia. The middle stages all deal with a continued cognitive decline. The last stage deals with very severe cognitive decline (or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease). In this final stage of the disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment and, eventually, to control movement. Although they may still say words or phrases, they lose the ability to carry on a conversation. At this stage, individuals need help with much of their daily personal care. To date, there is no scientific consensus on what causes Alzheimer’s disease and although researchers are hard at work, there is still no cure.

Please join us on August 20, 2011 as Dr Daniel Pollen, a leading researcher and listed as Director of the Alzheimer’s Clinic at UMassMermorial Medical Center, will be speaking about ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease on August 20, 2011 on ”The Senior Focus.”

Also, please join us for a Symposium on Alzheimer’s disease taking place in November at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester. Check back for the date and time of this very special educational event.