Alzheimer’s Disease is the fifth leading cause of death for people age 65 and older. In 2003, age adjusted death rates for Alzheimer’s disease (167.7 deaths per 100,000 people) surpassed death rates for diabetes mellitus (150.7 deaths per 100,000) and influenza and pneumonia 154.8 deaths per 100,000).
Some of this increase has resulted from better reporting of Alzheimer’s disease on death certificates. What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive form of presenile dementia that is similar to senile dementia except that it usually starts in the 40s or 50s; first symptoms are impaired memory which is followed by impaired thought and speech and finally complete helplessness.
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Dementia and its Effects
Dementia is a loss of intellectual ability of sufficient severity to interfere with an individuals ability to function. It is a syndrome that can involve several distinct types of impaired intellectual functioning. Demented individuals generally have impaired memory and orientation. They may also exhibit impaired abstract thinking and judgment, visual special disturbances and alterations in personality. Dementia is one of the causes if not the leading cause for nursing home placement. The prevalence in nursing homes range from 30% to over 50%, accounting for a substantial portion of the cost of nursing home care.