As of 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 5.7 million Americans are living with the progressive brain disorder known as Alzheimer’s disease. This condition is the sixth leading cause of death for all adults and the fifth for adults aged 65 years and older (CDC, 2021). Alzheimer’s disease causes a disruption of brain functioning pertaining to memory and thinking, and in late stages, day-to-day tasks become a challenge for those with the disease. The exact causes of Alzheimer’s are not yet known.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) analyzed claims data from the 2020 calendar year for inpatient and emergency department visits and found there were roughly 2,400 patient visits for the following conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mixed dementia, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia. Milwaukee County had the highest counts of visits at 372, followed by Dane County at 207. Age is one of the main risk factors linked to Alzheimer’s disease. WHAIC data found the average age of patients was 79. Analysis found no large disparity between male and female visit counts.
While it is sometimes commonly referred to as “dementia,” Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same thing. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, while dementia classifies the conditions—changes in thinking, memory and others—caused by brain injury or diseases that affect brain functioning negatively. Other examples of brain conditions that fall under dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The following are signs and symptoms of mild Alzheimer’s disease according to the National Institute of Aging:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Trouble handling money and paying bills
- Wandering and getting lost
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
- Mood and personality changes
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression