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Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia – or if you are concerned that they might – The Alzheimer’s Association has information for you.

Click on any of the drop-downs below for more information.

Most common type of dementia; accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Symptoms: Difficulty remembering names and recent events is often an early clinical symptom; apathy and depression are also often early symptoms. Later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. New criteria and guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's were published in 2011 recommending that Alzheimer's disease be considered a disease with three stages, beginning well before the development of symptoms.

Brain changes: Hallmark abnormalities are deposits of the protein fragment beta-amyloid (plaques) and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles) as well as evidence of nerve cell damage and death in the brain.

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Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.

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Previously known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease.

Symptoms: Impaired judgment or ability to plan steps needed to complete a task is more likely to be the initial symptom, as opposed to the memory loss often associated with the initial symptoms of Alzheimer's. Occurs because of brain injuries such as microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage. The location of the brain injury determines how the individual's thinking and physical functioning are affected.

Brain changes: Brain imaging can often detect blood vessel problems implicated in vascular dementia. In the past, evidence for vascular dementia was used to exclude a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (and vice versa). That practice is no longer considered consistent with pathologic evidence, which shows that the brain changes of several types of dementia can be present simultaneously. When any two or more types of dementia are present at the same time, the individual is considered to have "mixed dementia" (see entry below).

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Brain changes: Lewy bodies are abnormal aggregations (or clumps) of the protein alpha-synuclein. When they develop in a part of the brain called the cortex, dementia can result. Alpha-synuclein also aggregates in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, but the aggregates may appear in a pattern that is different from dementia with Lewy bodies.

The brain changes of dementia with Lewy bodies alone can cause dementia, or they can be present at the same time as the brain changes of Alzheimer's disease and/or vascular dementia, with each abnormality contributing to the development of dementia. When this happens, the individual is said to have "mixed dementia."

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Includes dementias such as behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD), primary progressive aphasia, Pick's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Symptoms: Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behavior and difficulty with language. Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are especially affected.

Brain changes: No distinguishing microscopic abnormality is linked to all cases. People with FTD generally develop symptoms at a younger age (at about age 60) and survive for fewer years than those with Alzheimer's.

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Resource Information

Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin

Information and support for people with dementia, their families, and caregivers.

Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin
620 South 76th Street, Suite 160
Milwaukee, WI 53214

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Contact Numbers

Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter Helpline: 1 (800) 272-3900
Waukesha County Regional Services: (262) 548-7224
Milwaukee Office: (414) 479-8800
Linea Directa En Español: (414) 431-8811

Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)

Information and Assistance - Provide brochures, support group information, assistance, referral and case management to families involved with a member who has dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.

Aging and Disability Resource Center
500 Riverview Avenue,
Waukesha, WI 53188

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Contact Numbers

Call (262) 548-7848 or 1 (866) 677-2372