(Content reproduced with permission from the Alzheimer Society of Canada)
1. I believe my wife has Alzheimer's disease. How can I get her
to see her doctor?
There are two types of Alzheimer's disease. Familial Autosomal Dominant (FAD) occurs in five to 10 per cent of cases and has a genetic link. In order for FAD to occur, the disease needs to be apparent over several generations of one family. Sporadic Alzheimer's Disease is more common (90-95 per cent) and people with this type may or may not have a family history of the disease. Our Heredity page gives more information on this.
The order in which the symptoms appear and the length of each stage will vary from person to person. There is no clear line when one stage ends and another begins. In many cases, stages will overlap. See the Stages section for more information about the three stages (early, middle, late) or the seven stages described in the Global Deterioration Scale. Whichever staging system is used, or if none is used, it's important to remember that the disease affects each person differently.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain where brain cells continue to die over time. There is no cure to stop the progression and eventually the body will shut down. People usually die of secondary infection, such as pneumonia.
A comprehensive assessment needs to be done by a trained physician for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease to be made. The person's family doctor may be able to do this assessment. Or she may refer to a memory clinic or specialist, such as a geriatrician or neurologist. You can contact your local Alzheimer Society to find professionals in your community. Visit the Diagnosis page for more information on how the diagnosis is made.
Depression can have symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease. It is important to see a doctor if any symptoms are present because often times the condition, such as depression, can be treated. See our list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease for more information.