Detect Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Edited by Maria Sharon Ubando, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng and 6 others

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Do you sometimes forget where you left your car keys or where you could have placed the book you were just carrying awhile ago? Forgetfulness could come quite naturally for people who are stressed out or lack sleep. Juggling piles of tasks can overwork your brain and make you forget a few mundane details in your busy day-to-day grind. At some point in our lives, we have all misplaced or forgotten things once, twice, thrice - or maybe even lost count in the process. But if this happens regularly and you happen to be at the prime of your life, then you may think -"Could this be a sign of Alzheimer's Disease?" Alzheimer's disease not only causes memory loss, but it could also deter sharp reasoning and thinking. This happens mainly because the brain cells start to progressively deteriorate and die over time. This disorder usually start out with mild symptoms of dementia which could be shrugged off by many as a part of the aging process. However, symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are alarming as it gradually worsens over the years. Patients afflicted with this illness usually survive an average of 8 years or more depending on the health condition of the patient. In fact, this medical condition landed on the top 6 leading causes of death in the United States alone. Cognitive capacity and mental ability are gravely affected which can interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's Disease is one debilitating disorder that you wouldn't wish to have or your loved ones to suffer from. It is important to know how to deal with it and to get the best treatments available. It certainly pays to know how to detect and catch the early signs of this disorder in order to combat or slow down Alzheimer's disease on its tracks from progressing further towards the unthinkable. If proper treatment or medications are administered while the disease is still at its early phase, successful outcome can be expected.

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What is Alzheimer's Disease?

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is considered to be the most common form of dementia or senile dementia (SD) in patients (around 80% of known cases) characterized by severe decline and gradual loss of memory, behavior, and cognitive thinking skills that hamper an individual's ability to perform daily tasks or do any form of normal interaction. The disease attacks the hippocampus part of the brain which is responsible for learning processes which is why the early symptoms of this progressive disease usually start out with deterred memory recall. The dementia symptoms are observed to progressively worsen over time which renders a patient incapable of doing simple routine activities. Dementia does not pertain to a specific disease but a general term that sums up a roster of symptoms associated to severe deterioration of memory, thinking, communication, and behavioral capacity. Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's disease does not come naturally with aging which is why most people link this disease to senility. While most patient suffering from this medical condition are usually in their late 60's or even older, there is a growing evidence that individuals can contract this disease earlier or while in their 40's which is coined as "younger-onset" or "early onset" Alzheimer's disease. Most patients with this illness do not recognize that they do have it. In fact, progressive symptoms of this disease are more apparent and visible to other people like significant family members and close friends. Alzheimer's disease usually progress from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which is characterized by common forgetfulness which do not affect a person's routine. People with MCI do not always develop Alzheimer's disease although they are fully aware of the frequent memory lapses that comes with aging.

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Alzheimer's disease can be categorized into two types:

  • Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD) - This type of AD is evident in individuals who are at their 40's to 50's. The disease usually run in families and symptoms appear in rapid progression.
  • Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD) - More common in patients whose age range from 60 and above. This is considered to be the most common type of AD afflicting patients today.

Causes and Risk Factors of Alzheimer's Disease

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  1. 1
    Age.
    Although experts stress out that aging is not at all linked to this condition, the elderly people are observed to be most prone to getting Alzheimer's disease. People who are in the late 60's and over are at high risk of getting the disease than younger individuals.
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  2. 2
    Gender.
    Statistics show that more females are said to be more prone to this illness than males.
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  3. 3
    Heredity or Family History of AD.
    If you happen to have some family members who have suffered or are suffering from Alzheimer's disease then you are more predisposed towards having Alzheimer's disease.
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  4. 4
    Genetics.
    The presence of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease. This is a rare scenario though as relatively very few people carry this genetic strain.
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  5. 5
    Hypertension.
    Having high blood pressure is also known to increase your chances of getting this dementia type more than others.
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  6. 6
    Head Trauma.
    Suffering from or having a history of severe head trauma also increases your likelihood to have Alzheimer's disease especially if the hippocampus is severed.
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How to Know The Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

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The common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease start out rather mild and slow in progression apparent in the early stages of the disease. In the late stages though, patients with this medical condition exhibit inability to communicate effectively with other people or even to respond to familiar faces or environmental stimulus. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is described to increase in severity over the years. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated to Alzheimer's disease:

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  1. 1
    Memory Loss.
    This is the most common sign and the first among other symptoms to be noted in the early onset of Alzheimer's disease which includes missing out on information that has only been acquired recently, like names of people you already know as well as important dates or appointments. The disease often attacks the part of the brain responsible for learning. In this case, short-term memory is affected and can reduce a person's effectiveness at home or in the workplace. Tip: Make use of some aides that can remind you of important information like notes or electronic organizers.
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  2. 2
    Hard Time in Dealing with Common Tasks Inside and Outside Home.
    People suffering from Alzheimer's often have difficulty in doing some daily tasks or things that they are already familiar with, forgetting basic directions even though they drive the same route everyday, answering simple crossword puzzles, cooking family meals, or even as simple as dressing up. Urinary incontinence and difficulty in eating or swallowing are also observed in some patients.
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  3. 3
    Time and Place Confusion.
    A person can easily lose track of time, the date, or even something as simple as the season. Their brains can't quickly decipher or understand what they are doing or anything that is happening around them at that very moment.
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  4. 4
    Deterred Speaking or Writing.
    There are times when you just find a person stopping in the middle of saying something because they do not have any idea what to say next. It seems that their train of thought got caught up someplace else and they can't seem to pull their thoughts together in order to make sense. Communication or expressing thoughts in words or by writing has become entirely difficult for someone who used to be good with carrying out conversations. Relationships are severed when they gradually become complacent or less interactive than usual. They forget common words in simple language or call something by a different name.
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  5. 5
    Misplaces Things More Often.
    A person with the disease often misplaces things but does not have the ability to retrace them unlike most regular people. At some point, because of severe memory loss, they could accuse other people of stealing things from them and this can dangerously occur from time to time.
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  6. 6
    Mood Swings and Changes in Personality.
    If you notice that a person easily gets confused, depressed, suspicious, scared or anxious, the person may likely be suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Sufferers of this condition become too agitated especially when they are in an unfamiliar environment or in a place in which they are not that comfortable. Some patients also experience hallucinations that trigger violent or harmful behavior towards themselves and other people.
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  7. 7
    Poor Visual and Spatial Ability.
    Difficulty in reading and comprehension, failure to determine or identify different colors, as well as confusion with space and distance are some early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
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  8. 8
    Difficulty in Focusing or Paying Attention.
    Lack of concentration or ability to focus in one task before moving on to the next ones is characteristic of person battling with Alzheimer's disease. They cannot seem to direct full attention and focus on something as they can easily be distracted or agitated with external factors such as noise or people roaming around. Multitasking can be tedious or an improbable feat for a person with this condition.
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  9. 9
    Impaired Socialization.
    Most sufferers of this condition display loss of interest or enthusiasm in activities that they typically enjoy. They also become quite moody or appear in a flat temperament which makes them less sociable and reactive or receptive to interaction with other people in a group. They become physically and emotionally withdrawn and keep to themselves more often than necessary.
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  10. 10
    Impaired Judgment and Reasoning.
    Dishing out factual information from a person with this dementia type can be very difficult as they could be incoherent or illogical in reasoning. They tend to misjudge or misinterpret events happening around them. Some people could display erratic or frantic behavior due to lack of understanding in things.
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  11. 11
    Irregular Sleeping Patterns.
    People with Alzheimer's disease may have difficulty sleeping and experience frequent wakefulness during the day or night.
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There is no known remedy for Alzheimer's disease to date but the goal of alternative treatment methods, medications, and supplements given are geared towards the alleviation or better management of troubling symptoms and also to delay the progress of Alzheimer's disease. It is always recommended to seek expert medical advice before proceeding with any treatment in order to determine the safest and viable option that suits the patient's condition. If there is a person in your family who is suffering from any stage of this disease, it is important that you give them full care, attention, and understanding. What they are going through is not an easy feat and no one would ever want to be in that position. Having a steady and reliable support system composed of loving network of family, friends, and colleagues will surely help Alzheimer's disease patients cope with the situation with increased fervor and strength.

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Questions and Answers

How is Alzheimer's disease diagnosed?

What criteria do doctors use to give a definitive diagnosis and is there some kind of definitive signs of dementia checklist that can be referred to? I have tried: I have tried looking for information about the early signs of dementia.. I think it was caused by: A relative is showing what we think are symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's symptoms.

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As the diagnosis is comprehensive, there are no early signs of Alzheimer's disease that define the disease itself. Nevertheless, if you check the article and see any of the signs (it is important to check them by yourself and not rely on the person whom you are checking), it is important to see physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, and psychologist experts who will diagnose the person. Only comprehensive tests can diagnose the person with Alzheimer's disease as dementia can be caused by many other reasons. The diagnosis itself includes a mental status check, a medical history check, and blood and MRI brain scans.

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Categories : Mental Health

Recent edits by: Donna, Inukshuk, ajallow

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