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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What particular part of the brain does Alzheimer’s effect?
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Alzheimer's is first detected in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for recent lea… Read Full Answer

Alzheimer’s is first detected in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for recent learning and more complex thoughts.  From there the disease spreads out to the other sections of the brain as the disease continues to progress.  Eventually, Alzheimer’s affects all aspects of everyday living and, in the end-stages, even the immune system is compromised. The person becomes susceptible to recurrent infections which quite often lead to the immediate cause of death.

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Q: Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?
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Hereditary Alzheimer's is rare--about 5% of all Alzheimer's cases.  This is the familial form of… Read Full Answer

Hereditary Alzheimer’s is rare–about 5% of all Alzheimer’s cases.  This is the familial form of the disease and if you have the gene for it, you will develop Alzheimer’s (usually relatively early).

You may also inherit a risk factor–Apoe-4 or Sorl 1.  These genes can predispose someone to developing it, but like risk factors for cancer that run in a family, it doesn’t mean that a person will develop it.  These risk factors are involved in the late-onset form of the disease (after age 65) and are in combination with other environmental and health factors that may dispose one person more than another to develop Alzheimer’s. At this stage, we still do not fully understand the complex interplay of all these factors.

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Q: Does the disease get worse with time?
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Unfortunately, yes.  Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.  Below is … Read Full Answer

Unfortunately, yes.  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.  Below is a link to our website that explains these stages and what you can expect.  It was developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg, an internationally recognized expert in this field and director of our Educational and Resources Program at NYU School of Medicine.  It is used worldwide to measure the progression of the disease.

Clinical Stages of Alzheimer’s

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Q: How do I find out more about existing clinical trials?
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The National Institute of Health has a website where you can find the latest information on clini… Read Full Answer

The National Institute of Health has a website where you can find the latest information on clinical trials, at www.ClinicalTrials.gov. The site allows you to search according to the specific condition and geographical location.

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Q: Is there a place to go to find services in my area?
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See our Resource Locator to find a doctor, facil… Read Full Answer

See our Resource Locator to find a doctor, facility, long-term care information, and more Alzheimer’s and dementia resources in your area by zip code. Listings include phone numbers and other needed contact information.  You can also contact your state or local department on aging to find out what government programs are available and how to qualify for them.  The website, http://www.benefits.gov  provides information on federal and state government programs that you, or the person you may be caring for, are eligible to receive. 

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Q: How do I find a good Elder Law Attorney in my area?
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An elder law attorney is one that through education and legal practice experience has an expertis… Read Full Answer

An elder law attorney is one that through education and legal practice experience has an expertise in addressing the needs of the elderly in estate planning, benefit eligibility, and long term care planning.   Visit the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, http://www.naela.org to get a list of NAELA attorneys in your area.  In order to be a member of the Academy, an attorney must meet a rigorous set of ethical standards, training and commitment to the needs of the elderly community. 

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Q: Is it safe to donate money online?
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Yes, our online donation process is secured with SSL (Secure Socket Layers 128 bit encryption). T… Read Full Answer

Yes, our online donation process is secured with SSL (Secure Socket Layers 128 bit encryption). This is the same security strength your bank uses online. 

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Q: What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
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Dementia is not a specific disease; rather, it is set of common symptoms that may be present in a… Read Full Answer

Dementia is not a specific disease; rather, it is set of common symptoms that may be present in a number of different diseases.  Alzheimer’s is one of these diseases and the most common one as it accounts for 50 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important brain functions.

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Q: My husband gets very aggressive and swears a great deal. What do I do?
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Aggressive behavior is one of the most disturbing behaviors in someone who has Alzheimer's diseas… Read Full Answer

Aggressive behavior is one of the most disturbing behaviors in someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. It can make homecare extremely difficult and is a common reason why a loved one may be placed in a nursing home. Fortunately, steps can be taken to help prevent and treat aggression in a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s may go through periods of swearing, screaming, throwing objects, resisting care, or attempting to hit others. Verbal assaults are more common than physical ones. Fortunately, such hostile behaviors are usually temporary.

Disruptions commonly occur if a person with Alzheimer’s feels their personal space has been invaded, for example, during dressing, bathing, or a doctor’s appointment. It’s important to understand that someone with Alzheimer’s is more likely to misinterpret certain actions and respond aggressively. Aggression can also arise as a result of a physical illness such as constipation or infection, pain, depression or anxiety, or lack of sleep.

What to Do

It’s important that a doctor evaluate the person with Alzheimer’s to identify any physical complaints that may be contributing to the problem that the person with Alzheimer’s isn’t able to communicate to you. You must become a good listener to both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication.  Their body language may tell you more than their words.

Here is a method that many caregivers have found helpful.  Keep a written journal.  Write down what happened just before an outburst, how the person acted, and what your response or action was. The journal should also list how often aggressive behaviors occur and what, if anything, reduced the outbursts. You may identify certain patterns/events that set off the aggressive behavior, and what responses by you worked to calm them down. For example, if a loved one becomes combative when trying to decide what to eat or wear, you can limit the choices available. Rather than asking, “What would you like for lunch?” simply prepare a sandwich and say, “Here’s a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  I know how much you like them.”

Despite your best efforts, outbursts will still occur. Try your best to remain calm. Do not argue or punish the person. He or she may not be able to remember the incident or be able to learn from it because of the nature of Alzheimer’s.  If all else fails and their combative behavior continues, you should consult their doctor who can prescribe a medication to reduce their agitation.

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