Since this disease typically affects older adults, it’s natural to ask: is it possible to detect Alzheimer’s ahead of time? What are the signs of Alzheimer’s? How do I know when it’s time to take my family member to a doctor?
Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the degeneration of brain cells and a loss of brain mass. This in turn causes memory loss and affects behavior, as well as social interactions.
The reason why an early diagnosis is important is because while Alzheimer’s has no cure, there are certain prescription medications that can slow its progression and alleviate some of the symptoms.
Detecting the signs of Alzheimer’s: is it possible?
Ongoing research is aimed at discovering the onset of this disease at an early stage. There are still no conclusive methods, however. What is known is that certain symptoms begin to appear.
If those symptoms are concurrent – that is, they happen at the same time or during the same period – it’s recommended that you visit a specialist immediately. A neurologist will be responsible for confirming whether or not it’s Alzheimer’s and how to control it, or slow its progression.
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A progressive diseaseUnfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease worsens with time. There are certain stages of its progression that can be identified. In the beginning, the disease is in a mild stage. During this time, the patient becomes a little slower.
They generally begin to lose their language abilities. Plus, they can also become lost in a conversation and have difficulty following their own train of thought, as well as those of others. They may also lose their energy and feel exhausted. They might experience difficulties when trying to learn new concepts or perform new tasks.
These symptoms might not be noticed, however, and can be confused with the normal aging process.
What are the symptoms?
There are additional symptoms during the moderate stage of the disease that are more characteristics of Alzheimer’s and therefore easier to identify.
Loss of short term memoryA recurrent symptom in people who have Alzheimer’s is their loss of short term memory. They won’t remember what they said a few minutes ago or they might repeatedly ask the same thing.
They also tend to forget where they have left certain objects. Patients with Alzheimer’s will be able to remember events that happened much longer ago, on the other hand.
We recommend you read: Tips for better short-term memory
Loss of sense of space and time
Certain dates will be forgotten and other points of reference are lost, such as the seasons of the year. Because of this, it’s very easy for people with Alzheimer’s to become lost when they forget how they arrived at a certain place or which route they took.
Difficulty with reasoning
Problems arise with reasoning or thinking with numbers, and it becomes impossible for them to create an agenda. Their sequential rational thought is altered. This means they find it difficult to balance a checkbook or perform activities in steps, such as cooking.
Limitations conducting ordinary daily activitiesIt can become difficult to take a bath or shower, to get home, to perform work activities, and more.
Certain depressive disorders and self-absorption are common, alongside anxiety or irritability. In general, the personality of someone with Alzheimer’s changes.
Confusion with images and objects
Changes in vision are also common. There may be complications with reading, judging the distance between things, or with the perception of colors.
Loss of proficiency in the use of language
Alzheimer’s patients will find it difficult to coherently articulate what they are trying to say, and confusion can result. One common behavioral characteristic is for a person to stop a conversation to try to remember the name of something. They may try very hard with no results.
A patient with Alzheimer’s may also invent new words when they can’t find the right word for a certain thing.
Good judgment disappears
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s might give money to family members or strangers without reason, or pay more than they should in other situations. They might walk away from a counter without waiting for their change.
In the more advanced stages, it’s impossible for the patient to make decisions.
Detecting the signs of Alzheimer’s can be very complicated. Not all of the symptoms occur at the same time or in the same way with everyone.
The best thing to do is go to a specialist when you observe symptoms that might be warning signs for Alzheimer’s. First, rule out any other disorders. Then, start an appropriate treatment.