When someone you love has Alzheimer’s disease, it can be confusing,
frustrating, and overwhelming, not only for the patient, but also for
the entire family.
The more information you have about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s
disease, the more you can do to connect the dots for a treatment plan
and help slow down the progression of the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Alzheimer’s
disease as the sixth leading cause of death for American adults, and the
fifth leading cause for adults over age 65. The disease is estimated to
affect 5.7 million Americans.
Early Alzheimer’s disease warning signs include:
- Memory loss that disrupts normal daily activities
- Taking longer to complete daily tasks
- Confusion with time and location
- Recent issues with speech or writing
- Repeating questions
- Poor judgment
- Losing things
- Being unable to retrace steps
- Changes in mood or personality
Two of the main risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are genetics
and age. If you have a family history of this disease, it is important
to share this information with your physician. It is important to watch
for symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as we age. For most people,
symptoms begin after age 60, and the risk for Alzheimer’s doubles
every five years after age 65.
Though age and genetics are beyond your control, research increasingly
suggests that certain physical, mental, and social behaviors can reduce
your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain and can help promote new brain
High cholesterol diets are linked to stroke and damage to brain cells,
while low-fat, low-cholesterol diets that are high in antioxidants (found
in dark veggies and fruits) may actually protect brain cells.
Remaining socially active supports strong connections between brain cells
and can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Practicing mentally stimulating activities can strengthen existing brain
cells and generate new nerve cells.
- Engage in life-long learning. Research has shown that higher levels of
education and continued learning can reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Play games and have fun doing puzzles and memory exercises.
- Read and write.
- Attend cultural events.
- Go dancing!
If you or someone you know has concerns about memory loss, mental ability,
or behavioral changes, contact your doctor to create a treatment plan
that works for you and your loved ones.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physician can provide a complete medical assessment, including a physical
and neurological exam, blood tests, mental status tests, and brain imaging,
to help you determine whether or not someone you love may have Alzheimer’s disease.