Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis is Key

Recent research has found that early detection can allow for more successful treatment and prevent the serious symptoms that incapacitate the patient.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal brain disease. As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life.  Today, it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and no known cure for the disease, but there is now good news revolving around early diagnosis.

Recognizing the onset of Alzheimer’s is key. Older persons should speak with their primary care doctor about any signs of Alzheimer’s that they may be experiencing.  Home health care professionals are a good source for observing patients in their natural surroundings when the most common warning signs are most evident.  Care givers can take note of any of these signs and report them to the attending physician or family.

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory LossOne of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over or relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices).
  2. Challenges in Planning or Solving ProblemsSome people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasksPeople with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
  4. Confusion with Time or PlaceLosing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time can be common with Alzheimer’s patients. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding Visual Images and Spatial RelationshipsFor some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room.
  6. Problems in Speaking or WritingPeople with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.
  7. Misplacing ThingsA person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
  8. Decreased or Poor JudgementPeople with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
  9. Withdrawl from Work or Social ActivitiesA person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.
  10. Changes in Mood or PersonalityThe mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious