Aging Options

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? NY Times Article Reviews Some Basics

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“Alzheimer’s disease can seem frightening, mysterious and daunting. There are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, which afflicts more than five million Americans.” That’s how a recent article we found on the New York Times website begins. We found this article very helpful because it answers some of the basic questions we hear frequently from our many clients.

If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or someone you love, we suggest you click here and read this timely piece. You’ll also find links to some companion articles in the New York Times that tell the compelling story of a woman who received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, then allowed a reporter to come inside her life for a closer look. (You can access that article directly by clicking here.) We urge our clients to become more familiar with various forms of dementia, since a solid understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses is extremely important in retirement planning, especially for those who want to avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones as they age.

This particular New York Times article consists of several frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s disease, beginning with one that many worried seniors ask: does an occasional memory lapse mean they are experiencing the beginnings of serious dementia? Fortunately the general answer is “no.” As the Times piece puts it, “Most people have occasional memory lapses, which increase with age.” The writer goes on to state that “the memory problems that characterize warning signs of Alzheimer’s are usually more frequent, and they begin to interfere with safe or competent daily functioning: forgetting to turn off the stove, leaving home without being properly dressed or forgetting important appointments.” Often the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease can also include mood changes, social withdrawal, and feelings of confusion. Sometimes early sufferers even find the disease affecting the way they walk, causing a shuffling or slower gait.

Other questions asked and answered in the New York Times article include questions about diagnosis, cause and prevention. Doctors will diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using a wide range of cognitive and medical tests. They’ll also check to see if there are other possible causes besides Alzheimer’s disease for the symptoms a patient is experiencing, such as reaction to prescription drugs.

As for what causes Alzheimer’s, in most cases the specific triggers are unknown. Still, other health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression seem somehow connected to an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. As for prevention, the Times reports, “So far there is no clear answer.” Exercise, mental stimulation, a healthy diet and a strong social life have all been promoted as preventatives, and these are good ideas in and of themselves, but no conclusive evidence has yet shown that these can forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Still, researchers keep looking.

The article also explains some of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease – important information for you if you’re caring for a loved one who has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Finally the Times lists several prescription drugs commonly used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Here, however, the news is not so good: of the five major drugs listed in the Times article, “none have been shown to work very well for very long.”

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can certainly cause fear. However, here at AgingOptions our goal is to help you plan for any and all of life’s eventualities as you age, without being afraid of what the future might bring. We can show you how to develop a LifePlan that not only takes your health concerns into account but also your finances, your legal affairs, your housing choices, even your family relationships. Starting the process is as easy as attending a free LifePlanning Seminar. We offer these highly enjoyable sessions frequently at locations throughout the region. It would be a pleasure to welcome you to a LifePlanning Seminar soon.

Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab and register. Then you can face your retirement future with greater confidence, no matter what life may throw your way!

(originally reported at

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